Saturday, February 02, 2013

Spiced cauliflower, for pasta or couscous

You can perform many variations on this theme of spiced cauliflower with raisins, a Sicilian dressing for pasta. The first version I came across was by Valentina Harris (her Italian Regional Cookery, an out-of-print BBC book), and included tinned sardines, tomato puree, and saffron.

I like the paprika in the version below, in part because I think that a dish of pasta and cauliflower, or even couscous and cauliflower, can appear too pale.

150ml chicken stock
1 cauliflower, broken into florets – I divide the larger ones
2tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1tbsp paprika
1tsp turmeric
Cayenne pepper to taste, or whizzed dried chillis to taste
Handful of raisins, soaked for 10 minutes in boiling water, sieved and gently squeezed
Handful of pine nuts, toasted in a small pan over a gentle heat – careful: they burn easily

Bring the stock to a simmer in a large pan, throw in the cauliflower, and cover. Steam for about four to five minute, or until the florets are just starting to soften. Remove the florets to a plate with a slotted spoon.

In another pan, warm the olive oil over a low to medium heat, throw in the garlic and onion, and soften for five to 10 minutes. Turn down the heat and/or add more oil if the vegetables threaten to catch.

Add the paprika, turmeric, and cayenne or chillis, with salt to taste. Stir around for a few seconds, and pour in the reserved stock. Bring to a simmer. Tip in the cauliflower, put on the lid, and leave to warm through for a few minutes. Stir in the raisins and pine nuts, and leave for a further minute.

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