A combination of Thanksgiving over-planning and continued concern over our vanishing seasonal vegetables recently deposited pounds of broccoli and golden cauliflower in our refrigerator. But thanks to Michelle (and of course, our voracious and demonstrably-upset-at-the-arrival-of-cold chickens), very little of our efflorescence of florets went to waste.
One preparation was a last-minute substitute for a creamier broccoli salad, as we realized our Thanksgiving meal’s butterfat quotient was beginning to approach Brillat-Savarin cheese levels. This version mixed broccoli and golden cauliflower into a light, spicy and garlicky side dish that made a crisp and fresh counterpoint to turkey, chestnut stuffing, corn pudding and generous amounts of gravy.
Our typically over-saturated American Turkey Day menu prep didn’t turn us away from cream, however, as we transformed the rest of our cruciferous cache into this rich, cheesy soup, which we enjoyed as we wound down from our holiday cooking.
Winter is pretty much here, and our local vegetable markets will soon be going away for a while. We resolve to do less complaining and more cooking, and make the bleak months as tasty as possible.
BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER SALAD
(adapted from Ina Garten’s The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook) (serves 6 or more)
8-10 cups of broccoli and cauliflower florets
1 head garlic, peeled
1 c. good olive oil
1 t. red pepper flakes
1 t. kosher salt
Blanch broccoli and cauliflower separately in salted, boiling water for a minute or so. Drain and immerse in ice water. Put in a colander to drain, tossing occasionally until dry.
Put olive oil and garlic cloves in a small, heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cook until garlic is browned and tender. Remove from heat and add pepper flakes and salt. Remove garlic cloves with a slotted spoon. Pour oil into a heat-proof bowl to stop the cooking. Let cool.
Toss vegetables and garlic cloves with as much of the seasoned oil as needed to coat, making sure to add the pepper and salt which will have dropped to the bottom of the bowl. Season with black pepper to taste. Serve cold or at room temperature.
BROCCOLI & CAULIFLOWER CHEESE SOUP
(adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen)
3 TB. butter
1 onion, chopped
2 lbs. broccoli, florets and stems, chopped coarsely
1/2 lb. cauliflower, florets and stems, chopped coarsely
4 garlic cloves, chopped
Pinch cayenne pepper
1 tsp. dried marjoram
1 bay leaf
Pinch of dried thyme
1 TB flour
4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 c. cream
1 c. milk
1 TB Dijon-style mustard
6 oz. Gruyère cheese, grated
Melt butter in a soup pot. Add onion, broccoli, cauliflower, garlic, cayenne, marjoram, bay leaf and thyme. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add salt. Add flour, tossing until dissolved. Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender. Then, add cream and milk. When warmed, turn off heat and remove bay leaf.
Purée solids with some liquid in blender in batches. Place in a clean soup pot. Stir in mustard. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary, along with some pepper. Add cheese. Reheat, but make sure not to boil as it will toughen the cheese. Add more stock if needed to thin the soup.
Serve with croutons sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves.