Cauliflower parmesan

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A few months ago I subscribed to the New York Times emailed cooking articles. It’s a weekly (or more) compendium of recipes. They are creative, amazing, and seasonal. I briefly glance at them, place them into a special folder, and for the most part, will never, ever look at them again.

No more! I vow to make at least one recipe per email. This week it’s cauliflower parmesan – think eggplant parmesan, but substitute cauliflower. For the uninitiated, cauliflower is in the Brassica Oleracea family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, collard greens, and kale. Sprouts and kale are the insanely hot siblings that get all the attention; but for my money, cauliflower is the one you should be dating. Especially when she comes down the stairs, gloriously rolled in panko bread crumbs and fried.

I made this recently and it was delicious. Never mind that it’s probably about 1,000 calories per serving, and that’s if you consider one sniff a serving. And that’s without wine. You can reduce the calories by roasting
the cauliflower in the oven, but I didn’t feel like it.

Melissa Clark’s
Cauliflower Parmesan
(cooking.nytimes.com)


Ingredients:
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
Kosher salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets
Olive oil (or canola, or blend), for frying
5 cups tomato sauce (any simple marinara will do, or jarred)
1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/2 pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces

Directions:

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. Season each generously with salt and pepper. Dip a cauliflower piece first in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.

Fill a large skillet with 1/2-inch oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry cauliflower in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer fried cauliflower pieces to a paper towel-lined plate.

Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the Parmesan over sauce. Scatter half cauliflower mixture over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces.
Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan. (Note: I made mine all in one layer)

Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving, if you can stand to wait.

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Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht, Roumel, Salvatore, Blanchard, and Walker PC, a litigation firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and writes a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. He can be reached at nroumel@yahoo.com.  His blog is http://mayitpleasethepalate.blogspot.com/.

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