Last night’s meal was another combinations of freezer food, leftovers and freshly prepared, an approach I’ve really come to love for putting together an interesting meal without too much trouble. In this case, the chickpeas were part of a huge pot that I threw together several weekends ago: onions, garlic, chickpeas, curry powder, a few crushed red peppers, turmeric. Super simple but super tasty.
The mixed vegetables were the end of a large pan I made earlier this week. This squash/pepper/eggplant medley has become a regular part of our summer meal rotation, it comes out so perfectly (slightly blackened, not overdone) using the giant cast iron skillet I got last year.
The “fresh” part of this evening’s meal was the mashed cauliflower (recipe below). It seems our dinners almost always involve something cruciferous and the mashed cauliflower is a nice change from the sauteed broccoli that I’ve been relying on lately. It’s also very easy, almost easier than sauteeing, and only slightly more difficult than steaming. I like to make it with a generous dose of garlic (most everything gets better with garlic!), but you could also liven it up with a few herbs (one of these days I’m going to try fresh rosemary), or some paprika and cayenne for more of a kick.
Garlicky Mashed Cauliflower (serves 4)
1 large head cauliflower
3/4 c. vegetable stock
5 cloves garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1. Peel and roughly chop garlic. In a small skillet, start the oil heating over low/medium heat and drop in one piece of garlic.
2. Remove green leaves from the bottom of cauliflower. Slice it in half and begin to carve out the stalk at the core. The objective here is to have mostly florets going into your mash. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the oil–when it begins to bubble around your “test” piece of garlic, it’s time for the remaining garlic to go in. Give it a quick stir so that everything gets coated in oil, then return to the cauliflower. Chop the florets into medium sized pieces, continuing to remove any large pieces of stalk. Place the chopped florets in a pot with 3/4 c. of stock.
3. By this time, the garlic should be starting to brown up a little. When it does, move the skillet off of the hot burner and swap in the pot full of cauliflower. Add the garlic to the pot, cover, and allow to simmer until the cauliflower is tender, about 10 minutes. Pour out and reserve any liquid that may remain in the bottom of the pot.
4. Using a hand masher, eggbeaters, or even a food processor (my most recent tool of choice), mash the cauliflower to your desired level of creaminess. A food processor will make a fairly creamy mash, while the hand masher will leave things more chunky. If the mash is too dry for your taste, add in some of the reserved liquid from step 3, a few spoonfuls at a time.
5. Salt and pepper to taste, then enjoy!
*Note: This recipe will probably leave you with a substantial portion of cauliflower stalks. Rather than tossing them, I like to chop them up to throw into a pan of broccoli or vegetable stir-fry later in the week. Cutting food waste in this manner is a great way to trim your grocery bill a little, without any sacrifice in food quality.