Friday, 6 November 2015

Flower of the Provence

Cavolfiore Gratinato con Erbe di Provenza & Camembert
Cauliflower, Baked with Herbs de Provence & Camembert

Cauliflower- not everybody's favorite, I know. And admittedly, left to its own devices, it is rather bland-tasting and not so wonderful in the aroma department whilst it cooks... if you catch, (ahem,- pardon the pun), my drift.

So, you need to DO something with it, to make it more tasty and more worthwhile. And it needn't be difficult, it needn't be overly rich (as is so often the case) and it needn't take ages to prepare.

This recipe calls for just 3 ingredients, a few herbs and spices and drizzle of olive oil. It takes minimal preparation and makes a pleasant change to the regular old cauliflower dishes. And yes indeed, it makes this plain old white and simple vegetable so much more worthwhile!

My ingredients were: 1 small cauliflower, 1/2 of a camembert cheese, 1 shallot and about 1 tablespoon of dried herbs de Provence. Obviously, with a recipe like this, it's all about the cooking method and not about measurements and quantities... I am sure you can improvise that much by yourselves!

This is tasty without the other ingredients overpowering the flavor of the cauliflower and without loads of added butter, cream or fat- you still get the full flavor of the cauliflower and the other ingredients accentuate it nicely. It's a good thing.

Begin by steaming the cauliflower whole for around 20 minutes, turning it over once after 10 minutes to make sure it cooks evenly. Make sure to trim off the stalk before you begin cooking, simply because it will speed up the cooking time.

Once it is done, simply cut the cauliflower into quarters. Obviously, had you tried to cut the cauliflower into quarters before cooking, it would have crumbled apart. 

Sprinkle with salt as soon as you have cut the cauliflower open as it will absorb it better whilst it is hot and steaming.

You need to briefly fry the shallot until it just begins to turn translucent before adding it, so, being lazy AND smart, I popped it into the same saucepan I had just used for the cauliflower, added a splash of olive oil, and it took care of itself in the time it took me to cut and season the cauliflower.

I then sprinkled the still steaming cauliflower with plenty of herbs de provence and spooned the shallot on top. Don't let it begin to brown whilst it is frying, otherwise it will burn whilst baking... and whilst we are on the subject of baking- turn on the oven to full power!

Now add a couple of slices of camembert to each quarter of cauliflower and cross them on top of the shallot- this way, when it melts, the cheese will hold all of those little slices in place. Grate generously with nutmeg and add plenty of freshly ground pepper and you are almost ready to go.

Drizzle lightly with olive oil, turn the oven down to 180°C and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden and delicious.

It's simple, but it's delicious and that's what it's all about!

Not the most exciting looking of dishes, but good, wholesome food, to either enjoy as it is, or also perfect to serve up as a side dish.

Make sure to add plenty of those herbs... you will love the deep flavor and richness that they bring, combined with the mild camembert and nutmeg and the simple olive oil and pepper... it's really all you need to make something so simple, so special!

So, I hope you all enjoy it too!

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