Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cauliflower with Orange Sauce

By ( [CC-BY-SA-2.0 ( or CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables. Unlike green vegetables, it's nearly impossible to overcook. You have to intentionally cook it to death to even make it mashable, which has become a popular preparation of late. That bullet-proof cook-ability  makes it the perfect vegetable for new cooks. You overcook broccoli and it's gross. You overcook cauliflower? It still tastes just fine.

This recipe is a riff on a richer orange sauce. That sauce contains lots of butter and it's thickened with a roux*, which explains all that butter. This is lighter, which is fine for most of us. We don't need quite that much butter - there is still some for flavor but I used a cornstarch slurry for thickening. Chinese stir fries are thickened with cornstarch, and it's a great technique for thickening sauces without a lot of fat (in fact, you could use no fat).

Though there are folks who believe that we should all eat our vegetables unadorned by fat, I find this is rather spartan. My philosophy is a little bit of tasty fat, like butter, goes a long way to making our vegetables more tasty. If that small bit of richness gets you to your vegetables, I'm all for it!

Cauliflower prices vary a bit. This week, I can get a pound for 88¢. Last week, I couldn't find it for less than $1.59/pound. The recipe cost reflects the higher price.

Cauliflower with Orange Sauce
(serves 4-6, costs $3.50)

1 head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cored and cut into florets
juice of 1 orange (should yield about ¼ cup juice)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
¼ cup minced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 Tablespoon cold water
½ Tablespoon butter
salt and black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the cauliflower for 8-10 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add the garlic and coriander. Cook for another minute. Drain the cauliflower and add to the pan. Raise the heat to medium high and add the orange juice. When the juice comes to a boil, add the cornstarch+water. Boil until the sauce thickens and coats the cauliflower. Add butter, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

*Roux: flour cooked in a fat, often butter. Used as a thickener in sauces and soups like chowders and gumbos.

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