Try as I may, I often find it difficult to muster enthusiasm for the cauliflower. The most appropriate adjective seems to be “lacking”: lacking in color and most critically lacking in taste. Cauliflower isn’t spicy like arugula or sweet like carrots. It’s just…cauliflower-y. Many American dishes only transform cauliflower into something delicious by smothering it in cheese, cream and butter. But anything will taste delicious if there is enough butter involved.
In Rome I tasted one of the best cauliflower dishes yet – full of bright, tangy flavors but with the cauliflower still present. Instead of cheese and butter, this recipe uses red wine and garlic to punch up the taste. Incidentally it is also extremely healthy (Did you know 1/2 cup of cauliflower has almost half your daily requirement of Vitamin C?)
Some variations of this dish add ham and onions, but my version is a bit lighter and vegetarian-friendly. You can also see find this made with cavolo romano, a relative of cauliflower that is covered in foreboding green spikes. I mixed both for the recipe, but it turns out just fine with only cauliflower.
Cavolfiore al vino rosso
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 2 T. olive oil
- 1/2 cup of dry red wine
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano
- Salt and freshly grated pepper
- Rinse the cauliflower and trim off all of the florets (the tiny heads).
- Heat olive oil over medium-low heat and sauté cauliflower for 2 minutes. Add garlic and sauté until garlic is softened but not brown, about 1 minute.
- Add the wine and cover the pot. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until cauliflower are softened a bit.
- Remove cover and raise the heat, stirring constantly, until all of the wine has evaporated.
- Remove pan from heat and place cauliflower into serving dish. Add cheese, salt, and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly.