While choosing the main dish for a holiday meal is usually easy — the family is never shy telling you what they want — deciding on side dishes is more challenging. Instead of going with the same old green bean casserole or simple steamed broccoli, dress up some beautiful cauliflower with capers, raisins and breadcrumbs. It’s sure to steal the show and become a traditional favorite.
Crispy cauliflower with capers, raisins and breadcrumbs
Serving size 8 to 10
If you can't find fresh cauliflower, frozen will do, but roast it frozen, not thawed, to prevent mushiness. Homemade breadcrumbs are best, but in a pinch, panko-style breadcrumbs will suffice; just don’t use the fine breading-type crumbs in the round cardboard box — they'll get soggy in this dish.
1 head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds), cut into 2-inch florets
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
Kosher or medium grind sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 fresh garlic cloves, thinly sliced vertically
2 tablespoons salt-packed capers, soaked in cool water, rinsed and patted dry
3/4 cup fresh coarse breadcrumbs, preferably homemade
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 teaspoon good quality anchovy paste or 1 canned anchovy, smashed up with a fork (optional)
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar (or Champagne vinegar)
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in center position.
Pour 3 tablespoons of olive oil into a large bowl.
Toss the cauliflower florets in the oil until well coated and season with salt and pepper.
Divide seasoned and oiled florets between 2 rimmed baking sheets, large enough to spread out the florets in a single layer. If the pan is too small, they will steam instead of evenly roast and brown.
Roast until cauliflower is golden and crispy, about 45 minutes, tossing every 10 or 15 minutes to ensure even browning.
While the cauliflower is roasting, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan or medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add sliced garlic and gently cook until it just starts to turn golden, about 5-6 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
Add prepared capers to the pan with the garlic and cook until they start to pop, about 2-3 more minutes.
Add breadcrumbs to the garlic-caper mixture and toss to coat. Cook an additional 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly to evenly brown the crumbs. Pour mixture onto a plate and reserve.
To the same pan, add the chicken broth and anchovy paste. Slowly bring to a low boil and add the white wine vinegar and raisins. Cook about 5 minutes or until the liquid has nearly evaporated. Remove pan from heat.
Pour the cauliflower mixture into a serving bowl. Lightly fold in the raisin mixture and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top with the breadcrumb mixture and freshly chopped parsley.
To ease the stress of meal preparation, prepare the cauliflower up to four hours ahead of time and reheat before proceeding.
The breadcrumb and raisin mixtures can also be made up to two hours before mealtime. Rewarm them as well before mixing with the prepared cauliflower.
What's your favorite cauliflower recipe? Share in the comments below!