Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Grainless Wonder: Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan

Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan.
I'd rather have this than potatoes any day.
Some meals just cry out for mashed potatoes. Roast beef and gravy. Pork chops. Homey things. Then there are chic meals that need something UNDER the protein to prop it up. Any restaurant worth its salt will plop some potatoes, couscous or polenta under your meat or fish, and plate your entree at an appealing angle. The starch is the "glue" of the plate. You eat first with your eyes. And the meat on top looks great. The stuff underneath, well, not so much.  I have a much better choice.

Often those potatoes or grainy glop are hardly worth eating. Guess what? Cauliflower puree is creamy, unctuous, and decadent. If you put that under your chop, or along side it, you may just decide to eat it first, after just one taste. So good, that when you spoon it into a bowl. it'll be impossible not to run your finger through the swirl and taste. Pure heaven. Gluten-free, grain free, low carb and vegetarian (with vegetable stock or water), even cauliflower haters will enjoy this creamy, mildly cheesy puree.

There are still nice cauliflowers in your local farm market, but if you are pressed for time, two 1-lb. bags of frozen cauliflower will work, too. We had a cross between the two: the last home-frozen cauliflower from last year's garden. Especially appreciated since the critters ate all but two of my cauliflower plants this year. It was really lovely beside our grilled pork chops and some fresh, steamed haricots verts.

Cauliflower Puree with Parmesan
3-6 servings

2 lb. of fresh or frozen cauliflower, cut into florets
1-1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock, vegetable stock or water
3T unsalted butter
1/3 cup grated Parmesano Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup heavy cream or homemade crème fraîche
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
salt and white pepper
Minced chives or parsley to garnish

Place the cauliflower in a medium covered saucepan with the stock or water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until very tender 15 to 20 minutes. Keep an eye on the stock as even in a covered pan, it may be mostly gone towards the end of the cooking time. There should be just a few tablespoons of liquid left in the pan; if not, add a bit of water.

Spoon the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor, keeping the cooking liquid aside to use if needed. Puree until smooth, adding as little liquid as possible. Add the butter, cheese, cream, nutmeg, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree again and scrape down the bowl. Serve hot. Garnish with chives or parsley if serving in a bowl instead of individual portions.

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