November 15, 2014

Dismissed for generations as bland, boiled, and boring, cauliflower has recently blossomed into the It Veggie at restaurants around the country. Michael Leviton, chef-owner of Lumière, one of the Boston area's most esteemed restaurants, recalls how enterprising chefs some years back started featuring cauliflower puree on their menus instead of mashed potatoes, introducing the public to its versatility. "Then after that, roasted cauliflower became all the rage," he says.

Leviton's résumé includes time training under chef Daniel Boulud at Le Cirque, where the menu 25 years ago featured a roasted cauliflower grenobloise (with browned butter and capers), which inspired Leviton's roasted cauliflower dish here. "I love the idea of using one ingredient different ways in a dish to show its different personalities," he says.

Leviton roasts cauliflower florets to caramelize them and develop complex flavor. He also blends the meaty stems into a silky puree for textural contrast. A tangy Dijon vinaigrette brightens flavors, and briny capers complete the Grenoble homage. Try Leviton's original dish at Lumière in West Newton next month.

ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH DIJON VINAIGRETTEHands-on: 35 min. Total: 65 min.Two great cauliflower textures in one dish: caramelized florets and silky puree.

1 (1-ounce) slice sourdough bread1 head cauliflower7 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided¼ teaspoon salt, divided¼ teaspoon black pepper2 cups water1/8 teaspoon fresh lemon juice3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic2 teaspoons grated lemon rind2 teaspoons Dijon mustard4 teaspoons rice vinegar4 teaspoons canola oilCooking spray2 teaspoons capers, rinsed, drained, and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Remove crust from bread. Tear bread into very small pieces. Place on a baking sheet, and bake at 350° for 13 minutes or until toasted and golden brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from oven. Increase the oven temperature to 450°.

3. Cut cauliflower into 2-inch florets, reserving stems. Place florets on a foil-lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; toss well. Bake florets at 450° for 25 minutes or until dark golden brown in spots and almost tender. Sprinkle florets with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper.

4. Combine reserved cauliflower stems and 2 cups water in a small saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes or until very tender. Drain well. Place stems, remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, and juice in a food processor; process until smooth.

5. Combine parsley, garlic, and rind in a small bowl. Combine mustard and vinegar in a small bowl. Gradually add remaining 4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil and canola oil to mustard mixture, stirring with a whisk.

6. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add cauliflower florets; sauté 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Stir in capers and parsley mixture. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Place 2 tablespoons cauliflower puree on each of 6 plates. Top each serving with ¾ cup floret mixture; drizzle with 2 teaspoons vinaigrette.

SERVES 6CALORIES 117; FAT 8.8g (sat 1.1g, mono 5.8g, poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 3g; CARB 9g; FIBER 2g; CHOL Omg; IRON 1mg; SODIUM 222mg; CALC 31mg

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