Thursday, March 18, 2010

Golden Cauliflower & Spicy Sabzi

Golden cauliflower is as delicious as it is beautiful; when steamed and tossed with a bit of lemon juice, olive oil and sea salt there seems no reason to opt for a more complicated cooking method. But if you do wish to devote some additional time to preparation, this recipe for a Persian inspired dish will not disappoint.

Sabzi is the Farsi word which refers to greens or herbs which are eaten raw at the table or cooked in rice dishes and stews. Depending on regional and family tradition, sabzi may include any of the following fresh herbs: cilantro, parsley, basil, mint, scallions, dill, fenugreek and spinach. Before cooking the leaves are washed well and very finely chopped. Use a sharp vegetable knife and enjoy the fragrance as you work!

In this recipe the mild flavor of the cauliflower combines perfectly with the fresh brightness of the aromatic herbs which are sauteed in olive oil until just tender and still a vibrant green; chile peppers and garlic add depth and heat. The choice of which herbs to use and in what proportion is up to you, as is the quantity of hot chile and garlic you prefer. Dried red chile pepper flakes may be used instead of fresh.

1 medium head golden cauliflower, separated into flowerets
2 tablespoons olive oil (more as needed)
1 large bunch scallions, thinly sliced
3- 4 cloves garlic, minced
1 or more fresh hot chile peppers, minced
1 medium bunch cilantro, finely chopped (thick stems removed)
1 medium bunch Italian parsley, finely chopped (thick stems removed)
sea salt to taste
juice of 2 fresh lemons or limes

Steam cauliflower on medium heat until tender but not mushy (about 6 minutes).
While cauliflower is cooking, heat olive oil in a large heavy skillet; saute scallions, garlic and chile on a low flame for 2 or 3 minutes, adding more olive oil if needed.
Stir in cilantro and parsley; continue cooking gently until tender but still bright green.
Lower heat, add cauliflower, sea salt and lemon juice. Toss well, correct seasoning and serve in warm bowls. More lemon juice, chiles and olive oil may be added at the table.