One day, while searching for a vegetable recipe that would go well with a simple, sauce-less main course, I came across this way of cooking cauliflower. The combination of cauliflower, raisins and pine nuts is traditional to quite a few Mediterranean cuisines. But the addition of cream, bacon and capers makes this cauliflower a dish-without-a-country (or region)…and, as it turns out, a very good one. When you are looking for the interesting, the complex and delicious to accompany the straightforward, uncomplicated and delicious…here is a likely candidate.
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Timing Note: This is a vegetable dish that may be made in advance and reheated. Add a Tablespoon or two more of heavy cream before reheating it slowly, stirring over low heat.
- 3 slices of American Bacon cut crosswise into 1/4-inch strips or, if American bacon is not available where you live, 3 ounces (or about 90 grams) of Lardons are a very good substitute.
- a 1 and 1/2 pound or 2 pound Cauliflower, divided into fleurettes: Cut large fleurettes in half.
- 1 – 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil
- 3 cloves of Garlic, minced
- 2 – 3 Fresh Sage Leaves, chopped or 1/2 teaspoon of dried (not powdered)
- 1 teaspoon of Fresh Thyme Leaves or 1/2 teaspoon of dried (not powdered)
- 2 Bay Leaves
- 1 Tablespoon of Pine Nuts
- 1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and cut into small cubes, or a combination of the two colours
- 3/4 cup of Heavy Cream
- 3 Tablespoons of Raisins
- 1 Tablespoon of Capers, drained
- 1/4 teaspoon of dried Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
- 2 teaspoons of Lemon Juice
- Kosher Salt and Coarse Black Pepper to taste
- a large, heavy-bottomed Skillet
1. Over medium heat, cook the bacon strips or lardons slowly until they are golden. Remove them to a paper towel-lined plate.
2. Add 1 or 2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil to the rendered bacon fat in the pan and sauté the cauliflower fleurettes in it over medium heat, stirring them about occasionally, until the tops begin brown.
3. Add the minced garlic and continue cooking, stirring, until it begins to turn golden around the edges.
4. Add the sage, thyme and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until you smell the herbs’ fragrance.
5. Add the pine nuts. Cook and stir until they start to brown and then, add the cubes of red pepper. Cook, stirring, for another 2 – 3 minutes to sauté the pepper.
6. Add the cream, raisins, capers and the red pepper flakes (if including them). Reduce the heat to low and simmer the cauliflower until the cream is reduced to a few thick Tablespoons.
7. Add the lemon juice. Taste and season with Kosher salt and coarse black pepper. Remove the bay leaves before serving.
A Note: Cauliflower with Bacon, Capers, Raisins, Pine Nuts and Cream accompanies Fleishomeletten in the diplomatickitchen’s Easter Lunch Menu. A related version of this recipe appeared in Gourmet magazine in September 2004.
An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.
© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2013