Caramelized cauliflower with golden raisins and almonds

(Wendy Maeda/Globe Staff)
October 15, 2008

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Serves 4 as a side dish

If you have to eat greens, they ought be green, right? Not exactly. Cauliflower, which also comes in shades of chartreuse (called Romanesco), bright orange, and deep purple, may have a similar shape and many of the same nutrients as broccoli, but it has a sweeter flavor. And the florets are just as versatile. The trick is to saute, steam, or roast them until they're just tender. Then toss them with olive oil, add them to a curry, or puree them into a creamy soup or sauce. This simple side dish of sliced cauliflower florets caramelized in olive oil tastes buttery sweet. It can turn into a main course by mashing a third of the cauliflower into a puree, tossing it with 1/2 pound of cooked penne, and adding a little pasta cooking water to loosen the mixture.

1/2cup golden raisins
1/3cup brandy
1large cauliflower (2 1/2 pounds)
1/3cup sliced almonds
6tablespoons olive oil
Salt, to taste
1small onion, finely chopped
1/4teaspoon crushed red pepper, and more to taste
2cloves garlic, finely chopped
4anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1tablespoon lemon juice

1. In a small bowl, soak the raisins in the brandy.

2. Remove the outside leaves from the cauliflower, core the head, and cut it into florets. Slice them into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Submerge them in a bowl of cold water, then drain, and set aside.

3. In a large skillet, place the almonds over medium heat and toast them, shaking the pan, for 3 minutes or until golden. Transfer to a bowl.

4. In the same skillet, warm 4 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium heat. Toss the cauliflower well in the oil, season generously with salt, and cover the pan. Cook for 7 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally.

5. Uncover the pan, turn the heat to high, and cook the cauliflower, tossing occasionally, for 5 to 8 minutes or until browned. Transfer to a bowl.

6. Return the skillet to medium heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and red pepper. Cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until the onion is translucent.

7. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes or until the anchovies dissolve. Pour in the brandy and raisins and let the mixture bubble until most of the liquid evaporates.

8. Add the lemon juice. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or red pepper, if you like. Fold the onion mixture into the cauliflower. Sprinkle with almonds. Jill Santopietro