The Year I Learn to Love Cauliflower continues to challenge me, and nothing scares me more than the prospect of raw cauliflower, undisguised by potatoes or hot sauce. Recently I decided to take the plunge, with this salad that pairs the vegetable of the year with creamy white beans, salty feta and crunchy pine nuts. Not a disguise, exactly. More like a distraction, with so much texture that I really didn't concentrate on the cauliflower. If you're a cauliflower lover, adjust the proportion of ingredients to highlight the vegetable. If you're a cheese-a-holic, add more feta. The lemon vinaigrette wraps everything together. The longer it sits, the more tender the cauliflower becomes, thanks to the mustard in the dressing. My husband Ted approved this salad for you; I can't say I'm in love with raw cauliflower, yet, but I'm working on it.
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Until I moved to Rhode Island a decade ago, I'd never heard of johnnycakes (which are also spelled jonnycakes, so let's get that out of the way up front). Johnnycakes, made of cornmeal and gluten-free, are to Rhode Islanders what pancakes are to the rest of the world. Most often they're served just like pancakes, with butter and a glug of local maple syrup. These savory two-bite roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes fit nicely into the end of the day, as a cocktail party appetizer or snack at a barbecue. As with any recipe that has just a few ingredients, be sure to use the best cheese, basil and pepper you can find. Serve them hot off the griddle, and spell them whichever way you like.
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During a raging rain storm, when you can't work in the garden, you have time to do many things. Read a book. Take a nap. Build a fire in the fireplace. Talk to the cats. Root around in the pantry. This tomato vegetable soup with cheese ravioli is a forgiving soup. If you want to use up a bit of potato, toss it in. Fresh chives from your garden? Add a handful. Some shreds of rotisserie chicken? Sure, why not? Let Mother Nature have her temper tantrum. After all, you have a perfect pantry, and you can always make soup.
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It's not easy to learn to love something you have spent a lifetime detesting. For me, that something is cauliflower, so I've decreed that 2013 will be The Year I Learn to Love Cauliflower. Or, if not love, like. When you're incorporating something new into your diet, start with a dish you already know you will eat. In this case, I swapped cauliflower for half of the potatoes in a creamy rich potato soup, and topped it with sharp Cheddar cheese. What's not to love? Stay tuned as I continue my adventures in cauliflower. I'm pinning recipes ideas to a Cauliflower board on Pinterest, so please leave any links to your own favorite recipes in the comments. Then, make this soup. I loved it, and I know you will, too. By the end of the year, I'll be making it without the potatoes. I promise.
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