Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Cauliflower Pie – Vegetables for the entire family

Vegetables are not necessarily the family’s favorite food. Cauliflower, in particular, is not a favorite choice either of the cook or the family. It may be the slightly bitter odor generated when cooking or that usually cauliflower is cooked so much it becomes a mushy paste. Cauliflower is a highly valuable ingredient in a healthy diet. It is full of vitamins, minerals and fiber. I think it is very similar to spinach. Spinach is horrible when overcooked, all slimy and stringy but when lightly sautéed with a bit of bacon it is a marvel of consistency and flavor.

In Crema and across northern Italy, Cauliflower is widely used. Most often it is prepared like Zucchine, that is, sautéed with a bit of oil or butter, whole garlic, salt and pepper. In Crema this is called Nusét or Pipeto. Pipare means to simmer, over a long time, on the corner of the stove. This dish would be made with Verza, an Italian green, large leaf cabbage. To give an idea of what is Verza, it is half way between cabbage and greens (turnip greens are widely used in southern cooking).

Ingredients for a 9” Veggie Pie:

Pasta Sfoglia II
1 head of Fresh Cauliflower
2 whole cloves of Garlic cleaned
3 slices of pancetta or bacon (not smoked) cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons of unsalted Butter
½ lb (200 g) Cheese (American, Mozzarella, Gorgonzola crumbled etc.) Grated
Fresh Ground pepper
½ tsp salt
1 palm of coarse salt for the water to blanch the Cauliflower
A little milk to brush the dough

Roll the pastry dough into two circles. Place on circle into a 9 inch pie pan and bevel the edges. Place the dough into the freezer while preparing the filling.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Remove the external leaves of the Cauliflower. Break the head into pieces about the size of a child’s fist. Blanch in boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Remove and drain the Cauliflower.

Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium-low heat, add the pancetta or bacon, add the garlic, grind 3 or 4 turns of pepper and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the Cauliflower stems, sauté for 4 minutes, sprinkle the salt evenly, turning the Cauliflower several times. Taste for salt, adding additional salt and pepper as desired.

Reduce the heat to simmer. Spread the cheese over the entire skillet and continue to cook on simmer until the cheese is melted.

Remove the pie tin from the freezer, add the filling into the pie and brush the top edges with milk. Place the remaining dough circle on the pie and press tight the edges. With a sharp knife or razor cut slits into the top dough to release steam.

Brush the top with milk.

Place in the oven for 45 minutes. Cool on a rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

This pie can accompany another dish or work as a standalone. We would have this as a standalone plate, served with a simple Barbara. Another interesting wine would be a Refosco from Friuli.

If you are having a dinner party this is the perfect side dish. You can prepare it the day before and cook it in the morning to then reheat at 200 degrees in the oven or just wait to cook the pie before dinner. It would be great with entrees of white meats with mushrooms sauces.


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Blogger Doll Face said...

I'm really not a fan of cauliflower but put it in a soup and i'll drink it right up! Would it work with brocolli??

8:03 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Natalie That is a great suggestion. I will have to try broccoli. Just about any vegetable will work.

6:11 AM

Blogger RennyBA said...

From my "Lamb in cabbage" post you know that vegetable is very much in use in Norway. My favourite is Cauliflower though. I love it both raw in a salad and boiled as garniture. Your Pasta Sfoglia recipe both looked and sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing!

12:33 PM

Blogger Travel Italy said...

Renny Cabbage is great. Unfortunately with the centralization of our food sources we have lost many of the local varieties, it is not cost effective to produce them...

There are 3 pasta sfoglia, two of them are for sweets. I will be presenting them further in the year.

I always appreciate your comments and next summer am thinking about coming to visit your great Norway!

4:03 PM


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