Recipe Day at UAKC
We're feeling a little Italian today
A New Parmesan Recipe From Melissa Clark
I've always been a fan of the NY Times' food critic Mark Bittman and his easy and basic approach to cooking. But now, I've discovered Melissa Clark – also of the NY Times. She publishes fantastic recipes (like the one below). She's written or collaborated on over 30 cookbooks. So now, I'm a fan of both Mark and Melissa even though they're quite different. Below is Melissa Clark's recipe for Parmesan Cauliflower. It sounded like an unlikely combination to me at first, but then I thought about the properties of cauliflower that I liked, such as its firmness and body, as well as the crunchiness. It seemed like a perfect fit with the gooey cheese and the tangy, tomato flavor of the Parm sauce. Of course, the dish is also perfect for a vegetarian main course.
P.S. Check out the wine recommendation at the bottom.
Think of cauliflower Parmesan as the winter analogue to eggplant Parmesan. This fried cauliflower is worth making all on its own, with golden, crisp florets that are impossible to stop eating. But they’re even better when given the parm treatment — baked with marinara sauce, mozzarella and grated Parmesan cheese until bubbling and browned. If you’re not a cauliflower fan, this recipe also works with broccoli.
- ½ 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, for frying
- 5 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (see recipe)
- 1 cup finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
- ½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces
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.
Transfer pan to oven and bake until cheese is golden and casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.
Don't worry about whether the wine should be chosen to go with a vegetable dish or the meat that would have been there in lieu of the vegetable. The focus of the meal is the Parmesan, i.e. a red wine is in order. Specifically, a red that will fit with the Italian theme and complement a meal dominated by the flavor of a red sauce and a pungent cheese. Though many hearty reds witll fit the bill, I think the idea of a Chianti is excellent. Chianti is widely available in all price levels, fits the occassion, and will be a wonderful accompaniment to Melissa Clark's delicious recipe.
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