"Wow! Risotto!" my vegetarian daughter, Caryn, exclaimed when I set a bowl of finely chopped and roasted cauliflower on the table. "Not exactly," I explained, "unless you want to call this Roasted Cauliflower Risotto."
Whenever Caryn comes to visit from Baltimore, I experiment with new dishes to make for her. So when I saw a bag of crumbled cauliflower at Trader Joe's, I grabbed it.
I call cauliflower the unsung hero. Ever since we've discovered roasting veggies, none of them, in my estimation, surpass cauliflower. Of course I could put chunks of cauliflower in the processor and pulse them until finely chopped, but it is much easier to buy them and I am a shortcut cook.
I began cooking the crumbles by baking them until golden. I then stirred in some fresh herbs, shallots and spices, topped them off with shards of cheese and ended up with a side dish that looks very similar to risotto. Caryn's verdict. "I never thought cauliflower could be so delicious!"
Roasted Cauliflower Crumbles with Panko & Gruyere Cheese
1 package (16 oz.) finely chopped cauliflower (3 cups)
3 tablespoons plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 to 3 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
⅓ cup panko breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons finely shredded Gruyere or other Swiss cheese
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
Arrange one oven rack in the lower middle and one toward the top. Preheat the oven to 400°.
Pour the cauliflower onto a large rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 3 tablespoons oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out into an even layer. Place the cauliflower on the lower rack and roast for 25 to 35 minutes, stirring once halfway though, until golden and some is browned. Cool slightly and remove to a serving bowl.
Spread the panko into a pie dish. Bake the panko on the upper rack for 8 minutes or until golden. Cool.
In a small bowl, mix 3 tablespoons olive oil with the lemon juice. Pour over the cauliflower and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
Make Ahead: Cauliflower may be held several hours at room temperature. Panko may be baked a day ahead and stored at room temperature.
Before serving, Add the cheese, shallot, chives and thyme to cauliflower. Add panko and toss. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
Makes 4 servings.