We all know that you should never go to the grocery store hungry. It’s just never a good idea; you will invariably walk out with several off-the-list items that you’d rather not have in the house. Unfortunately, it seems that I’m always hungry when I’m at the grocery store. This is probably because the grocery trip is nearly always tacked on to the end of a gym session (it’s right next door) or at the end of the work day when I am so hangry I could eat my own arm. Luckily for me, instead of oreos and ice cream, my low-blood sugar addled brain generally gets out of hand in the produce isle. In a grocery store where half the produce is unidentifiable, this can be dangerous. Last time, instead of nopales, my hunger randomly chose a huge head of cauliflower (whew). Now what to do with it?
Cauliflower is one of the blank canvases of the veggie world. Its savory and yet sweet. It’s mild and can be boiled, steamed, roasted, pan-fried, mashed, blended or eaten raw. It loves to be seasoned with garlic, crusted with bread crumbs, specked with lemon, herbed with…herbs, assaulted with curry, and draped in cheese. You can do anything with it that your little heart desires and this week, my heart desired anchovies.
Well, anchovies and raisins and capers, that is. You know, Sicilian style, or agrodolce (sweet and sour), if you’re gonna be all fancy about it. As I’ve mentioned time and time again, this is one of my favorite flavor combinations. Salty, nutty anchovies set off tangy capers, sweet raisins and pungent garlic. An inaccurate spritz of lemon juice and some honey for balance creates a blanket of zippy glaze for my favorite cruciferous veggie. And this is just so simple. One pan and 25 minutes and you’re ready to eat. I’ve urged it before and I’ll urge it again….if you’re afraid on anchovies, you really have no reason to be. They do NOT taste like fish! Theyre salty and nutty and add a great depth to most sauces. If you realllly can’t get over it though, then I would sub some other meaty goodness like pancetta. It won’t be strictly sicilian anymore, but honestly, I made this recipe up, so I’m sure it isn’t authentic either; and anyways, who cares? Its good.
A normal human would make this a beautiful side-dish to a piece of white fish or some seared scallops. Some of us aren’t exactly normal and would eat this as the main event, out of a bowl, with some creamy greek yogurt. Whichever camp you’re in, you won’t be disappointed.
Serves 3-4 as a side dish or 2 as a main course
I totally meant to throw in some toasted pine nuts but just flat forgot. You should try to remember them, they would be nice. I don’t think it’s too important to get your cauliflower all the same size. I, personally, like having tiny, glazed, soft trees and large, crunchy trees; it adds interest.
2 T olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
Pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste
4 anchovies, chopped
1 medium-large head cauliflower, broken into little trees
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1/3 c raisins
2 T capers, drained
Juice of 1 lemon
2 T red wine vinegar
1 T honey
1/4 c. toasted pine nuts
- Heat the olive oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat, add the shallot, red pepper flakes and anchovies and cook for 1 minute
- Add the cauliflower and cook until starting to brown, stirring occasionally
- Add the garlic and cook 1 minute
- Add the rest of the ingredients, stirring to distribute evenly
- Turn the heat down to medium and cover, cooking until the cauliflower is tender (~15 min) and glazed
- Salt and pepper to taste (you want to do salt last; you wont know how salty your anchovies and capers are until they’ve cooked a bit)
- Add the pine nuts, toss and serve