Crusty Baked Cauliflower with Farro from The Smitten Kitchen

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As another year draws to an end and we look forward to a new one it is hard to also not look back on 2017. What a brutal year this past one has been for so very many people – with floods, fires, hurricanes, and these are only the natural pains not to count the current mood, one of collective sorrow and pain is at the forefront when I think of this past year. But there have also been glimmers of light between the dark days – the women’s march and the outcry of more people then has ever been witnessed in modern history; there have been friends and sighs of relief from individuals who overcame obstacles and healed; for me there were trips which is always a bright spot. As we approach the winter solstice and the darkest day of each year I always find it hard to also not find the hope and possibility that lingers in the vast dark that light has to reappear and that at this moment we can only transcend toward more light.

And on a lighter note (and slightly hungrier note) the other night I cooked what I realized was likely my favorite thing I cooked (and I did cook this on repeat) this past year. This is a recipe from Smitten Kitchen website and one she adapted from Ina Garten cookbook, and really in my mind that is the start of some really good kitchen pedigree. It starts with roasted cauliflower and mixes it with Farro, three kinds of cheese, capers, crushed red pepper flakes, sage, and lemon and bakes it to a crusty cheesy masterpiece. It is the perfect match of comfort and a unique zip from the things you mix in. It was perhaps the thing I made the most in 2017 and will be reappearing in the year to come.

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Every hope that we can learn from the bruising pains this past year has brought so many of us (if not personally) then universally. May this moment be the one that brings the return of light. And may we have more moments filled with delicious cheese and baked goodness in 2018.

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Crusty Baked Cauliflower with Farro from The Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients:

1 cup dried Farro

3 cups water or broth

Salt

Pepper

Olive Oil

2 ¼ – 2 ½ pound cauliflower cut into small florets

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage

2 tablespoons capers drained

2 large cloves of garlic minced

½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Crushed red pepper flakes to taste

2 cups Fontina cheese shredded

½ cup ricotta

½ cup panko breadcrumbs

1/3 cup grated pecorino romano cheese or parmigiano (I use whatever I have at the time)

  • Cook farro. If you think ahead and plan you can presoak the farro overnight in 3 cups of liquid and then only cook for 10 minutes of simmering until tender and then drain. With less planning simply simmer in liquid for about 30 minutes until most of the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender. Drain any excess liquid.
  • While farro is cooking heat the oven to 425°F. Drizzle the olive oil over cauliflower and toss with salt and pepper and spread florets in one even layer on a cookie sheet. Roast for 20 min until lightly browned and tender, checking it half way through the baking time and turning pieces over.
  • Reduce the heat to 400°
  • Assemble the casserole. In a large bowl add the sage, capers, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper to cauliflower and farro and stir to combine. Stir in the fontina cheese. Taste at this stage to see if you need more salt or pepper or capers etc.
  • Transfer half of the mixture to a greased 10 inch ovenproof baking dish. Dollop rounded tablespoons of ricotta all over casserole. Sprinkle the remaining cauliflower farro mixture over the ricotta leaving pockets of it undisturbed.
  • In a small bowl mix the breadcrumbs with the pecorino cheese and 1 tablespoon olive oil until evenly mixed. Sprinkle over the entire casserole.
  • Bake for 20 min until browned and crusty on top. Serve with a green salad and enjoy.

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