Sicilian Cauliflower and Black Olive Gratin

I found this recipe on the New York Times web site and was excited to try cooking cauliflower a new way.  When Dana and I arrived for Sunday dinner at my parents house last week this cauliflower and olive dish was just coming out of the oven!  It was yummy but we all agreed: more cheese, smaller olives.  So I have changed the recipe just a bit based on how the original recipe turned out.

Goes well with red wine!

Goes well with pork roast from Holiday Farms : – )

Ingredients:

  • 1 generous head green or white cauliflower (2 to 2 1/2 pounds)
  • Salt
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 16 imported oil-cured black olives, pitted and cut in half or chopped fine
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan
  • note: The Romano is delicious but because it’s lower in fat it doesn’t get nice and gooey when it melts.  Use half mozzarella with a really flavorful Romano or use 1/2 cup of sharp cheddar instead.

Procedure:

1. Break up the cauliflower into small florets while you bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt the water generously and drop in the cauliflower. Boil 5 minutes while you fill a bowl with ice and water. Transfer the cauliflower to the ice water, let sit for a couple of minutes, then drain and place on clean tea towels.

2. Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees. Oil a 2-quart baking dish or gratin dish. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about 3 minutes, and add a pinch of salt and the garlic. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fragrant and translucent. Remove from the heat and stir in the olives.

3. Place the cauliflower in the baking dish and add the onion and olive mixture, the remaining olive oil, the parsley and half the cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir together well. Spread out in the dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

4. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the cheese is nicely browned. Serve hot or warm.

Yield: Serves 6

Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Advance preparation: The cauliflower can be cooked and refrigerated for up to three days. The dish can be prepared through Step 2 several hours before assembling the gratin. Hold on top of the stove or in the refrigerator.

Nutritional information per serving: 177 calories; 13 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 7 grams monounsaturated fat; 9 milligrams cholesterol; 9 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams dietary fiber; 377 milligrams sodium (does not include salt to taste); 7 grams protein

Martha Rose Shulman is the author of “The Very Best of Recipes for Health.”

Lemon Cucumber Greek Salad

Lemon cucumbers and one gherkin cucumber from our garden.

I was lucky enough to travel to Greece with my family when I was a teenager and since then, Greek salad (I think they just call it salad there) has been one of my favorite ways to enjoy cucumbers.  These lemon cucumbers from our garden add a lot of bright color to this crisp summer salad.  The lemon cukes are named for their appearance, inside they look and taste like the cucumbers you are used to.  Their skin is thinner than traditional cucumbers which is why you don’t see them in grocery stores, they need to be eaten or preserved with in about 48 hours of picking them!

Sliced lemon cucumber, slightly green and familiar insides.

Ingredients:

3-4 small-ish cucumbers, chopped into bite sized pieces

1/2 of a medium white or red onion, chopped

a handful or more Kalamata olives, pitted (canned black olives have their place, and it is not in Greek salad!)

1/2 cup chopped peppers (green, yellow or red)

1/2 cup  chopped fresh tomato or halved grape tomatoes

Feta, goat or sheep’s milk, crumbled to cover the top of your salad

Red wine vinegar

Olive oil

Salt and pepper

Dried or fresh thyme, oregano and basil (Dana used the lemon basil from our garden which was perfect in this salad!)


Assemble the salad and toss just before serving.

Procedure:

Prep all of your veggies, the amounts are not super important, if you want mostly cucumbers, go for it.  Or use an even amount of each, it’s salad, not rocket science, use what you’ve got, it’ll be good!

Sprinkle equal amounts of the herbs over the top of your mixed veggies.

Add salt and pepper and as many olives as you like.

Drizzle olive oil, you won’t need much, toss to coat and then add half as much vinegar, toss again.

Taste and adjust seasonings.

Crumble enough feta cheese to cover the top of your salad.

Mix and serve!

I would suggest that you be generous with your servings of this salad.  Feta cheese is naturally low in calories compared to other cheeses.   Cucumbers are a more nutrient dense form of water and the amount of olive oil needed in this recipe is relatively low.  What I am saying here is that this dish is high in nutrients, large in size and low in calories.

A colorful way to enjoy the fresh veggies of late summer.

Lately I’ve been able to eat as many green vegetables as my heart desires as they are growing freely in our garden.  I’ve been eating huge dinner plates full of collards and kale and lettuces, several times a day.  And they make me feel full.  Why?  They are highly nutritious and thus feeding the cells of my body that which they need to function optimally.  And my stomach is literally full of food.  Food that contains fiber and fat, which will take me a while to digest, thus I am full for hours.  Conclusion: eat more nutrient dense foods more often!

So may times I’ve been asked, how can I eat such a restricted diet?  No one seems to understand: I eat a diet restricted to the foods that make me feel energized, satiated, happy and healthy, most of the time.  Everything in moderation, including moderation. We shouldn’t all eat everything all the time just because it’s available and conveniently wrapped in non recyclable garbage with a far off expiration date on it.  Seriously, have you seen these?!  A healthy diet is one that contains the foods that make you feel your best and limits everything else to the occasional indulgence.  Sure, you have to do some research (aka paying attention to what you eat and how it makes you feel) and then you’ll have to eliminate some foods and add in new foods.  It’s worth the effort.  It’s pretty amazing how far you can go on a “restricted” diet!