Friday, May 28, 2010

curried cauliflower

One of my favorite cooking blogs is The author, Heidi Swanson, maintains a fabulous collection of healthy recipes that have been a source of inspiration for me since I first discovered her blog a little over a year ago. She's also a talented photographer and accompanies each blog entry with one or more beautiful photos of her culinary work, artfully presented. Consequently, being a photography enthusiast myself, the inspiration I take from her extends beyond the kitchen. Many of the recipes she has posted have become part of my regular cooking repertoire, but the one I am sharing today is truly among my favorites. She calls the recipe Feisty Green Beans, and she found it in a book called Easy Green Organic by Anna Getty. I prefer to make this dish with cauliflower instead of green beans, which Heidi suggests as a variation. I've tried both and prefer the texture of the cauliflower here. I've also made it vegan, but it's just as easy to add the dairy products right back in if that's your preference (see original).

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets1/2 t. paprika2 T. Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
1/2 c. golden raisins1 t. ground cumin1/3 c. coconut milk
1 T. olive oil1 t. ground coriander1/4 c. sliced almonds
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced1/2 t. curry powder1 handful finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 medium yellow onion, finely diced1/2 t. sea saltsalt and pepper to taste
3 bay leaves1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/3 c. white wine6 oz. extra-firm tofu cut into half-inch cubes
Remove the block of tofu from the packaging, drain the water, cut it in half (save half for later - you can store it in the fridge in a container with a lid, covered with water), wrap the half you're using with a clean towel, place it under a heavy object, and let it sit for a while to squeeze out the extra water. Wash your fresh cilantro, pick off the leaves and chop them up until you have about a large handful. Slice your garlic and dice your onion. Start a pot of boiling water on the stove and salt it well. While it's heating, chop up your head of cauliflower into small florets and then wash them. If you found a large head, only use 3/4 of it and save the rest for later. Once the water is boiling, toss your cauliflower in, but only let it boil for a minute, just enough for it to lose its raw edge. Drain and plunge the cauliflower into ice water so it stops cooking. Alternatively, you can just rinse it thoroughly with cold water. Set aside.
Heat about a cup of water in a tea kettle or whatever you have handy, until it boils. Place the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with the hot water; let sit for five minutes, drain and then set aside.
Heat your largest skillet over medium heat. I use a saute pan. This is a lot of food and you need to be able to stir it around. When the pan is hot, add the oil, garlic, onion and bay leaves. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions and garlic start to brown a little bit. Add the wine and cook until it has mostly evaporated.
While it's cooking, unwrap your halved block of tofu and chop it into small cubes.
Remove the bay leaves from the pot - but be careful not to burn yourself. Stir in the paprika, cumin, coriander, curry powder, salt and cayenne pepper. Stir in the tofu cubes and the raisins and cook until heated through, about a minute or two. Add the cauliflower and then the vegan butter. Stir until the butter has melted. Remove from the heat source and stir in the coconut milk, then most of the almonds and most of the fresh cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spoon the mixture into bowls and top with the remaining almonds and cilantro.
This will serve about three or four people as a main dish. To stretch it further, you could serve it with rice.

Side note: If you've never heard of Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread, you might be a little put off, like I was at first, by the name. "Buttery Spread" sounds like an empty promise, like some frightening chem lab concoction reminiscent of the way Cheez Whiz isn't really "cheese"... Well, if that's the case, then you should know that Earth Balance is made with natural vegetable oils, is not hydrogenated and has no trans-fats or anything gross like that. I recommend it if you're trying to cut dairy out of your diet, because it's pretty tasty. On the other hand, if you're okay with dairy, then you can just use regular butter (preferably organic, unless you like antibiotics and synthetic hormones in your food), or you could also try ghee, which is "clarified" butter, meaning that the milk solids have been removed.

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