Browned cauliflower with anchovies, olives, and capers

cauliflower in Brittany-1

Ok, the sign gives me away!  The price is still in francs.  I took this picture wandering through an outdoor market in Brittany years ago, but isn’t it lovely and inspiring?

The best cauliflower dish I ever ate was in an Indian restaurant in Soho on a trip to London back in 1970.  I have been trying to come up with something as scrumptious ever since.  There are A LOT of recipes for cauliflower.    I have several in my repertory  for this vegetable, from several different regions – even one with Indian spices, but not as good as the one I remember!  This particular dish works well as a main dish with the addition of 3-4 servings of pasta. It was adapted from Fine Cooking, January 2007, and I suppose that more than anything, it is “Mediterranean”


1. 1 cauliflower head
2. 2/3 cups water
3. 2 cloves garlic
4. coarse sea salt, a pinch
5. 6 oil –packed anchovy filets, drained
6. ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
7. 15 Kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
8. 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
9. 2 teaspoons capers, roughly chopped
10. 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
11. ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

1. Cut cauliflowers into florets.
2. In a mortar, crush the garlic and salt with a pestle to make a paste.
3. Add anchovies and incorporate them into the paste.
4. Put the mixture into a shallow, large bowl and add the oil, the olives, the lemon juice, the capers, the zest, and the crushed red pepper.
5. If using as a main dish, begin to prepare 6-8 oz of pasta such as bow-tie or gemelli
6. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. When it is hot but not smoking, add half of the cauliflower and cook until it is brown.
7. Transfer the cauliflower to a plate and proceed with the other half adding oil as needed.
8. Return the first batch of cauliflower to the pan and add the water.
9. Cover and let the cauliflower steam about 6-8 minutes.
10. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked cauliflower to the bowl with the anchovy mixture. If needed, add a little of the cooking liquid.
11. Stir gently allowing the flavors to blend.
12. Serve hot as a side dish or at room temperature as a tapa.
13. If using as a main dish, combine with the pasta adding grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

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