Monday, October 20, 2008

Okay, fine. I give in.

Fall has arrived.  

The other night for dinner I had roasted chicken, cauliflower with brown butter and fried sage and a butternut and apple mash with melted sharp cheddar.  It was warm and homey and comforting, and I loved it.  And so, it seems, I may finally be embracing this change of seasons.  Which isn't so bad, really.  It's the season of soups and stews and apple pies and red wine.  And, actually,  some of my favorite vegetables.  

A word about cauliflower, if I may.

You should be eating more of it.  Maybe you already eat a lot of it, but cauliflower is, I think, a severely under-loved vegetable.  Really.  It is DELICIOUS.  It is particularly delicious roasted with brown butter.  Every now and then -- not nearly often enough, I've decided -- I make this recipe.  And I take the cauliflower out of the oven, and let it sit on the stovetop while I finish preparing the rest of the meal, and by the time that meal has landed on the table, I've already eaten about 2/3 of the cauliflower, straight off the cookie sheet.  It's simply addicting.  And, super bonus, it's oh-so-good for you, too, with all those vitamins and nutrients and phytochemicals.

Cauliflower with Brown Butter and Sage (or not).

A few notes before we begin.  One: this was the first time I actually made this recipe as it's written.  Never before have I had fresh sage on hand when making this, so I've always used shallots instead.  Not at all an equal substitute, I realize, but I figure shallots are so tasty that they're never a bad idea.  I just throw them in with the butter while it's browning and, as I've said, I'm always quite obsessively pleased with the outcome.  In fact, after having the sage version, I think I prefer the shallots.  More deliciously flavorful. Two: if you have a nice, fresh head of cauliflower do not, under any circumstances, throw away the leaves.  They are edible and they're very very good.  Even the pretty thick, stalky parts become tender and tasty when roasted.  And finally: please, don't skimp on the butter.  If you're going to skimp on the butter, just skip the recipe.  Or, better yet, go back to our origins, and do your best to embrace the butter.  It's good for you, really.  Your cholesterol will be just fine, I promise.  And your mouth will thank you.

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
4 (+) tablespoons butter 
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or chopped shallots!)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

serves 4 (or perhaps less).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it just browns and gives off a slightly nutty smell (be careful not to burn it!). Add the olive oil and sage, let the sage fry up for a few seconds, then pour the butter over the cauliflower.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to coat.

Roast the cauliflower for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally so it cooks evenly.  It will be light brown around the edges when it's done.

Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary, and serve warm.