Friday, March 4, 2011

Saffron Cauliflower Pilaf


Saffron rice pilaf  has long been one of my favorite dishes.  I felt sure I could create a cauliflower version, and it was way easier than I thought it would be.  I checked out a few recipes to see what exactly is in the dish, then assembled my own.

The trick here is to cook it JUST enough so that the onion and garlic are soft but the cauliflower retains a crisp-tender quality.  It reheats beautifully the next day, so could easily be made ahead for a company meal.

And of course, substitute freely!  Golden raisins instead of cranberries, pecans instead of (or in addition to!) walnuts ... invention is the key to the best discoveries.

I found reasonably priced, flavorful saffron at the European Grocery on Huntington Street in Kennewick.  They keep it at the front counter, so you have to ask for it.
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SAFFRON CAULIFLOWER PILAF

 1/2 cup very hot water
1 teaspoon saffron threads

1 medium head cauliflower
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter

1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts 

In a medium sized pot, combine very hot water and saffron.  Set aside.

Wash cauliflower and separate it into florets.  Run these through your food processor on the medium shred disc.  You'll get a lovely mountain of cauliflower.

To the saffron water, add onion, garlic, butter, salt and pepper.  Stir.  Bring to a simmer and cook for two or three minutes only.  Add shredded cauliflower and stir well.  Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until color deepens, cauliflower is crisp-tender, and onion and garlic are cooked (they can be crisp-tender, too, if you like).  This will only take a few minutes.

Stir in cranberries.  The water should all be absorbed.  I didn't need to add more water; you might.

Taste for seasonings, stir in cilantro and walnuts, and serve hot. 

Makes 4 hearty servings.  Also very tasty reheated the next day!

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