Even in LA, we’re in comfort food territory with pouring rain (which I love) and chilly nights. Perfect braising weather, but braising doesn’t have to involve a big hunk of meat. Rather, it’s the technique of slowly cooking food in liquid in a covered pot for deeply flavored results. I love Molly Steven’s All About Braising cookbook, which is where I got the idea for this delicious, nutty, yummy cauliflower situation last week. Toss Molly’s braised cauliflower with a little good-quality olive oil and whole-grain pastas. I can’t get enough of this toothy Farro Spaghetti from Rustichella d’Abruzzo, which comes in an 8.8 ounce bag.
Braised Cauliflower with Capers & Toasted Bread Crumbs
Adapted from Molly Steven’s All About Braising
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs made from day-old rustic white bread
1 head cauliflower (1.5 to 2 lbs)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
To make bread crumbs, place bread in a small food processor and coarsely chop. (I used leftover brioche.)
Spread breadcrumbs in single layer on baking sheet, and bake in a 325-degree oven about ten minutes—turning once or twice—until crumbs are golden. Set aside to cool.
Cut cauliflower into florets, discarding thick core. Cut into individual florets that are about 1.5 inches long and about as wide.
Heat butter and oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add florets and sauté, turning frequently, until they are speckled all over with nice bits of brown, about 8 minutes. Add capers, stir and cook for another minute. To braise, pour in stock, season with salt and pepper, cover tightly and reduce heat to low. Simmer gently until the cauliflower is tender enough to be easily pierce with the top of a knife, 15 to 20 minutes. If liquid threatens to dry up at any point, add water or more stock.
While cauliflower is braising, make pasta. Note: if using farro pasta, don’t stir for the first minute since it’s more fragile than regular durum wheat pasta. Drain and toss with olive oil.
When cauliflower is tender, remove lid and boil away any remaining liquid, shaking pan so cauliflower doesn’t stick. Add lemon juice, and correct seasoning. Stir in bread crumbs. Toss with pasta and serve immediately.