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Flower Power



I’m not sure it’s appropriate to call a cruciferous vegetable hot (if you haven’t noticed, magazine editors obsessively use this word), but since I work at a magazine I’m going to unabashedly put it out there: Cauliflower is hot.

Every vegetable has their day, but this humble guy hasn’t really gotten his chance at stardom—until recently. I’ve been seeing cauliflower pop up on restaurant menus all around town. In fact, I’d almost forgo a margherita pizza at Pizzeria Delfina [www.pizzeriadelfina.com] (one of my most favorite things to eat in the city) in lieu of their spicy cauliflower—a bold and beautiful combination of cauliflower fried to a golden brown and showered with tons of garlic, capers and pickled Calabrese peppers. I’d run the recipe for it right here if Tara Duggan at the Chronicle hadn’t beaten me to it a couple months back.  You can check out the link here.  (I’ve experimented with my own, less messy, take on the recipe by roasting the same ingredients at 450 degrees and using chile flakes instead of the peppers.)

Maybe the second best way to prepare cauliflower that I know of is cauliflower “couscous.” James Ormsby, the former chef of many a restaurant including Jack Falstaff, made it for a lunch that I attended when Jack Falstaff was just opening. One taste and I was hooked.

This is how I do it at home: Core a head of cauliflower, break up the florets, pop them in a food processor and pulse until it resembles couscous (see my beautiful photo). Take the “couscous,” throw it in a pot of boiling, salted water or chicken stock and cook for maybe 3 minutes, drain very well and toss with ample amounts of butter, salt and Parmesan. I served the other night with Mario Batali’s recipe for butterflied, roasted leg of lamb (which I got at Drewes Brothers in Noe Valley [www.drewesbros.com]), prunes and green olives. It soaked up all that jus just fine and I venture to say it was quicker to prepare than a box of Near East.