Comforting Cauliflower

For many years roasting was the only way I cooked the cauliflowers I got from my Saturday farmers’ market in Athens. But when we moved to Kea I was faced with a completely different kind of cauliflower. The huge heads my neighbor Maria grows in her family’s organic garden are so delicious that we can’t stop eating them. But I have to invent a lot of recipes to use them up, especially consume their considerably long but perfectly tender stems; just serving the florets, boiled as a salad, as is the custom here, is a really shame…

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Starting from the flavorings of the previous salad, the garlic and the anchovies, I decided to make a gratin-like dish using the creamy but light béchamel I have developed for my moussaka–with olive oil and yogurt. To it I add the mashed in the blender cauliflower stems, and the resulting sauce is smooth and thick, ready to turn golden brown in the oven. We are addicted to this winter dish that uses all the parts of the cauliflower, and is comforting without being heavy as some traditional French gratin dishes can be.

You can even double the recipe and bake it in two pans, then freeze the one and reheat it whenever you feel like it, as I did the other day, with yet another huge cauliflower. I have yet to try the recipe with our broccoli, of which we have an abundance this year. I bet it will work fine.

OUR YELLOW CAULIFLOWERS

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One year we managed to grow some beautiful small yellow cauliflowers in the garden, from some seeds I thought were heirloom. It seems, though, that ‘the colorful cauliflowers {…} came after decades of traditional selective breeding,’ according to a piece I read in London’s Daily Mail. It said that ‘some scientists have even claimed that they are healthier for you.’ The health benefit was an extra bonus, because our yellow cauliflowers tasted wonderfully sweet. Simply steamed they needed nothing else, not even olive oil or lemon. I hope we will manage to grow them again.

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See the Recipe: Cauliflower Gratin with Garlic and Anchovies

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