Roasted cauliflower steak with capers, pancetta and raisins

Another magical cauliflower recipe.
Don’t have two 12-inch ovenproof skillets? Sear off the cauliflower steaks in two batches, then roast all four steaks on a half-sheet pan, instead of in the two skillets.

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5 (1/4-inch-thick) slices pancetta (5 ounces), diced
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/4 tsp salt
2 pinches of sugar
1 large head cauliflower, sliced into 4 thick “steaks”. (Don’t worry if you get several smaller “steaks” instead, it’s hard not to break them up a bit)
2 tbsp water
1/2 cup capers, drained

Put the oven racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 400F.

Cook the pancetta in 1 dry 12-inch skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 8 minutes, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off the fat and wipe the skillet clean.

Stir together the raisins and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Heat 1 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp butter, 1/8 tsp salt, and a pinch each of sugar and pepper in 2 x 12-inch skillets over medium-high heat, swirling skillets occasionally, until butter begins to brown.
Add 2 cauliflower steaks to each skillet and lightly season with salt and pepper then cook until the undersides are golden, about 4 minutes.

Transfer the skillets to the oven and roast the cauliflower, without turning, switching the position of the skillets halfway through roasting, until the cauliflower is just tender and the undersides are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes (depending on thickness).

While the cauliflower roasts, bring the water just to a boil in a 1-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, then stir in the pancetta, capers, and raisins with lemon juice. Add the remaining 2 tbsp butter, and stir until incorporated.
Remove from the heat, and season with pepper.
Carefully invert the cauliflower steaks with a spatula onto a platter, and spoon the sauce over them.

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A beautiful caper vinaigrette to serve with fish

This is worth posting on it’s own as it is absolutely delicious on a salad or drizzled over a piece of hot salmon or halibut. It also keeps for a long time in the fridge

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2 egg yolks
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp Champagne vinegar
1/2 cup blended oil (1 part olive oil to 3 parts canola oil, mixed together)
2 tbsp capers, drained
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
salt and pepper

In a food processor or in a blender, combine the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic and vinegar.
Slowly whisk in the oil. Remove from the blender into a bowl and fold in the capers, mustard and herbs.
Season with salt and pepper.
Drizzle over your seared piece of fish or a salad

Pan-fried eggplant with balsamic, basil and capers

Sweet, mild eggplant pairs with briny capers, floral basil, and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Beautiful combination.

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Serves 4
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
2 small eggplant (about 8 oz. each), trimmed and sliced 1/3″thick crosswise.
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste>
2 tbsp. capers
4 basil leaves, thinly sliced

Simmer the vinegar over medium heat in a 1-qt saucepan until reduced to a thick syrup, about 15 minutes.
Heat half the oil in a 12″ skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches and adding more oil as needed, fry eggplant, flipping once, until golden-brown, 5–7 minutes.
Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt and pepper. Arrange on a platter; drizzle with balsamic.
Garnish with capers and basil.

Turkey tonnato

Given I’m not using beef or veal in recipes, I have replaced the usual veal tonnato with turkey and it’s brilliant! Thank you to Giada de Laurentiis for this recipe.

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2 pound turkey breast, skinless and boneless (Or you can be really lazy and use precooked thickly sliced turkey, (1/2 ” slices) then miss the cooking stage of the turkey completely)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dried basil
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Tuna Sauce:
6 ounces canned white meat tuna, packed in olive oil, do not drain
1 teaspoon anchovy paste or 1 anchovy fillet, drained
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon capers, drained
1/3 cup Kraft Real, or Helmann’s Real mayonnaise. (Make it a good quality one)
Chopped parsley leaves, capers or lemon slices, for garnish

Preheat oven 375 F.

Season the turkey with salt, pepper and herbs. Coat with olive oil, place in a baking pan and pour the chicken broth around the turkey. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the baking pan for 10 minutes. Slice into 1/2-inch slices, on an angle. Allow to sit in baking pan with juices as you make sauce.

In the bowl of a food processor add the tuna, anchovy, lemon juice and capers. Puree until creamy, about 1 minute. Pour the tuna mixture into a bowl and stir in the mayonnaise.

Place the slices of turkey on a platter and pour the tuna sauce on top. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Caponata ratatouille

Mediterranean vegetarian food is the most comforting to eat and beautiful to look at. This is a combination of the Provencal ratatouille and Italian caponata with the briny capers and olives added for a punch. It is from the wonderful BBC Food website and is very low calorie. If you need anything else with it, you could boil some rice or pasta with it.

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Serves 6

1 tbsp olive oil
1lb 10 oz eggplant, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks. If you don’t like eggplants you can use zucchini instead
1 large onion, cut into 1 1/2″ chunks
3 celery sticks, peeled and roughly chopped
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, skinned,deseeded and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp caper, drained
small handful pitted green olives
4 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp sugar
1-2 tbsp cocoa powder, optional
Freshly ground black pepper
To garnish;
chopped toasted almonds
Chopped Italian parsley

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan until very hot, add the eggplant and fry for about 15 minutes or until very soft. Add a little boiling water or stock to prevent sticking if necessary.
Meanwhile, place the onion and celery in a large saucepan with a little water or stock. Cook for 5 minutes or until tender but still firm.
Add the tomatoes, thyme, cayenne pepper, and eggplants to the saucepan. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the capers, olives, vinegar, sugar and cocoa powder and cook for 2 to 4 minutes.
Season with freshly ground pepper and add salt if you think you need it.
Divide between 6 bowls, garnish with the toasted almonds and chopped parsley and serve.

Penne with brown butter, arugula, tomatoes and pine nuts

This is a terrific recipe adapted from Giada de Laurentiis and is full of great textures and flavors. Although it’s a pasta dish, it’s really like a room temp pasta salad that’s light, tangy, easy to make and makes a great lunch for friends.

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Dressing:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp good Dijon mustard
1 large lemon, zested and juiced
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large clove garlic, crushed

Pasta:
1 pound penne rigate pasta
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, at room temperature
4 cups baby arugula
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained

Firstly, toast the pine nuts by arranging them in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until lightly toasted, 6 to 8 minutes. Cool completely before using.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, crushed garlic, lemon zest, salt, and pepper until smooth. Set aside.

For the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and reserve about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a high-sided skillet, whisk the butter over medium heat until melted. Simmer until foamy. Continue to cook until the butter has a nutty aroma and turns a caramel color, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pasta, dressing, arugula, tomatoes, Parmesan, pine nuts, and capers. Toss until coated, adding the reserved pasta water, 1 tablespoon at a time to loosen the sauce, if needed. Transfer to a large bowl and serve.

Roasted cauliflower with toasted garlic breadcrumbs, saffron and dried cranberries

My favorite vegetable and the most versatile and low calorie one around. This is sort of like a Sicilian recipe but replaces the raisins with the dried cranberries to make it a little different.

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Serves 4

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
A few tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
pinch saffron
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp capers, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Small handful of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 F
In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower together with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper.
Spread out on a baking sheet into a single layer. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until brown at the tips.

In the meantime,in a small saucepan, bring the stock up to the boil, add the saffron and cranberries and remove from the heat.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. When the foam starts to subside, add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds until fragrant.
Add the capers for another 30 seconds and then the breadcrumbs. Toast for a minute or two, until golden brown and then remove from the heat.

Toss the cauliflower together with the saffron/cranberry mixture and the toasted pine nuts.
Top with the capers and breadcrumbs and some chopped parsley and serve immediately.

NB You can substitute the cauliflower or add Brussels sprouts or broccoli florets to it and treat it the same way as the cauliflower.