Yep, purple cauliflower. We were invited to a somewhat impromptu potluck the other day, and I was going to make an orzo gratin with a saffron cream sauce to use up the pasta from Thanksgiving, but then Sarina told me that the host was making pasta. I got off work at 2:45 and we wanted to leave for the party about 4:30, so I needed to find something I could put together relatively quickly. I ran by the closest grocery that has some decent produce, and saw four heads of this beautiful purple cauliflower that I had never worked with before.
On the drive home I started to think about what to do with it. I didn’t want to do a gratin with cheese or cream because I wasn’t sure what the pasta sauce was going to be. I love the flavor of roasted cauliflower and my mind was still going in a Spanish direction. That set me to thinking about capers, and then the famous fried capers in the Cafe Flora Caesar salad, and then I remembered I already had a nice vinaigrette in the refrigerator that I could add sherry vinegar to.
A plan was set in motion, and I ended up with the recipe below, which I think tasted good. It definitely had big flavor, and the purple cauliflower really retained its color. At serving time I garnished it with a lot of whole flat parsley leaves for contrast and a fresh herbal hit.
Roasted Purple Cauliflower with Sherry Vinaigrette and Fried Capers
Serves 8 as a side dish
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Vegetarian and vegan
- 4 heads cauliflower, preferably the purple variety
- 1 c. jarred roasted piquillo peppers or red peppers, sliced thin (or roast them yourself if you have the time)
- 1/2 c. small capers
- 1/2 c. canola or other vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 c. top quality extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 c. sherry vinegar
- 2 T. lemon juice
- 4 cloves fresh garlic minced or pressed
- 1 c. homemade or bought breadcrumbs
- kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and use convection if you have it.
- Take apart the cauliflower into large bite sized florets. Up to you if you want to use the stem or not.
- Toss the cauliflower with 1/3 c. of the olive oil and a few pinches of salt, and roast in the oven. You should use two pans, but one of them can be the one you will ultimately serve in. They will shrink a lot during roasting. Check and toss them occasionally. Roast until they are quite tender and have significant brown spots. You don’t have the real roasted flavor until you see those caramelized bits.
- Meanwhile, rinse the capers, dry them in paper towel, and carefully fry them in the canola oil. Watch out for spattering! Fry until quite dark but not burned, then remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Make a vinaigrette in the usual way with 2/3 c. of the olive oil, the sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and half of the garlic. Season highly with salt and pepper.
- Toss the breadcrumbs with 1/4 c. olive oil and the remaining garlic.
- When the the cauliflower is done, let it cool for a few minutes. Add the capers and red peppers. Start tossing with the vinaigrette, a little at a time until you reach your preferred level of dressing. I’d like it to be highly flavored but not drenched. Taste and adjust salt and pepper.
- Put back in a nice, broilerproof serving dish and cover with the breadcrumbs.
- To serve, run under the broiler long enough to get the breadcrumbs nice and toasty, then garnish with lots of parsley.