Paul was out of town a few weeks ago, and as anyone with a significant other knows, that can be a bit of a double-edged sword. Usually I start off excited at the prospect of an empty house, not having to make dinner or do dishes, and just eating watermelon for dinner and having time to read and organize my closet, and finally clean out my desk. (Really, I have the most boring ideas of fun, don't I?)
But inevitably what happens is I get home from work, stare at my empty home, and wonder why on earth I thought this alone time was going to be so great after all? Then I usually rustle up some vegetable to eat and try and find something to watch on Netflix and count how many days it is until Paul comes home.
When I'm not eating hunks of watermelon for dinner, a couple of my favorite home-alone meals are a quick and easy red lentil dal, and some kind of just-vegetables dish. A baked sweet potato say, or a big pile of braised cabbage. In this iteration, I was playing around with the idea of using only a head of cauliflower to make dinner. I came up with sort of cauliflower two ways - a soft, creamy, lemony cauliflower puree, topped with a crunchy roasted cauliflower topping. It's quite delicious, and an entertaining way to tell someone you ate a whole head of cauliflower for dinner. What do you cook when you're home alone?
You can mix this up however you'd like, I imagine the topping would take nicely to a few olives or capers, or you can add in a 1/2 cup of white beans to the puree, etc. Serves 1-2 people.
1 large head cauliflower
2 tablespoons butter
zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan or pecorino romano
salt, pepper, olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts
chopped parsley and paprika, for serving
1. Set a pot of salted water to boil. Preheat the oven to 425F. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Get out a food processor and put the butter in the food processor bowl.
2. Remove any green leaves from the cauliflower. Cut away the florets and stems of your cauliflower until only the thick center core remains, discard the center core. Now, take any large florets and stem pieces and move them to one side of your cutting board, and take all the small little floret pieces and bits and move them to the other side of the cutting board. If you find you have not many small pieces, slice some little small floret pieces off the bigger pieces so you have about 1-1 1/2 cups small florets.
3. Place the small florets in the foil-lined baking sheet and toss with olive oil and salt to coat. Place in the oven to roast. Toss the florets occasionally to ensure they cook evenly. It should take about 20 minutes for the cauliflower to roast In the last five minutes before the cauliflower is done, toss in the pine nuts so that they toast. Remove from the oven when browned and tender when pierced with a knife.
4. Meanwhile, place all the large florets and stem pieces and put them in the boiling water. Boil until just tender. Remove the cauliflower with a slotted spoon, being sure to drain well, and transfer the cauliflower to the processor. Season with salt and run the food processor until the cauliflower is a smooth puree. Zest the lemon directly into the food processor bowl, add in the cheese and a bit of black pepper. Pulse food processor to combine. Taste for seasoning.
5. Scoop the cauliflower puree into a bowl. Pile the roasted cauliflower and pine nuts on top. Top with parsley and a sprinkling of paprika and serve warm.