12 March 2014

From the Chef ~ Cavolfiore con Olive Nere ~ Cauliflower with Black Olives

Here is another wonderful vegetable dish from one of my favorite recipe books/kitchen memoirs The Heart of Sicily:  Recipes and Reminiscences of Regaleali.  If you missed the last one, scroll down to stuffed pepper recipe below - so tasty!  This recipe calls for green cauliflower, a seldom seen heirloom variety.  I have substituted our typical white variety, and the author suggests Swiss chard, broccoli rapa, or other flavorful greens as alternatives.  Another optional ingredient is a few anchovy filets.  As they show up often in vegetable dishes like this one, I introduced them here.  This works well with both hearty winter roasts and summer grilled meats.  Please let me know if I can help you in any way!

1. Cut one head cauliflower (give or take 2 lbs.) into 2-inch florets and boil in well-salted water until al dente, about 4 minutes, then drain.  Meanwhile, sauté 1 small, minced onion in 1/4 cup olive oil until slightly golden, 2-3 minutes.  (Optional:  Add 3-4 chopped anchovies and sauté  with onions.)  Remove pan from heat and add 1/2 cup pitted and sliced oil-cured black olives.  Set mixture aside.
2. Preheat oven to 375º.  Oil an 8 x 12-inch baking dish with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Combine cauliflower and olive mixture in dish.  If desired, mix in up to 1/4 cup olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste, remembering that the olives and the cheese to come are salty as well. 
3. Toss with 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano cheese.  Now top with 1/2 lb. shredded mozzarella and 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano cheese.  Bake for 20-30 min. or until top is nice and golden.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

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