The housekeeper of one of the homes I work at cracks me up. She's a very cute and very short El Salvadorian woman whose culinary prowess and ingredient knowledge I'm always trying to improve. One of our "inside jokes" is that I ask her about breakfast. I'll say, "Blanca, what did you have for breakfast this morning?" She usually looks at me and smiles which is a signal for me to eagerly lend my bad Spanish. "Que tiene para desayuno hoy?"
"Ohh, naathing." I then tell her that "desayuno es muy importante" and she usually laughs at that (or me). She actually doesn't like to eat breakfast because apparently it makes her gassy. However when I do catch Blanca eating, it's usually in the likes of Yoplait yogurt, ramen, or romaine leaves drowning in Newman's Own Light Caesar Dressing and parmesan cheese. In fact, Blanca LOVES cheese, even more than cup of noodles and I periodically wonder what percentage of her meals are cheese-less.
As she saw me making a cauliflower side very similar to this, she asked if it was cheese. If there's anything white on my cutting board, Blanca asks if it's cheese. "No, no es queso." I gave her a little ramekin full to try and her eyes lit up, she pointed, "I like for brickfist." I think she was referring to the raisins, and I'm not sure if she was making a joke, but before I could say anything else, she was sprinkling the top with parmesan.
This dish would be great Blanca's way as well but what I love most about it is the taste and aroma the lemon thyme lends. Lemon thyme is strong, so a little can go a long way- but it's beautiful. It adds an earthiness and sensuality that few herbs do. I'm lucky enough to have a bunch growing in my yard but if you see it at the store, you must grab some. Regular thyme would work well here too.
I recently made this for some company that came over. We sat on the patio, turned on the heat lamps and opened up a bottle of Billecart. Heaven!
INGREDIENTS: (makes about 4 cups/ 4 small sides)
1 large head cauliflower, cut into 1" florets
2 tbsp olive oil
kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 1/2 tbsp.
1/4 cup golden raisins
1 1/2 tbsp. toasted pine nuts
1 teaspoon chopped lemon thyme
-Preheat the oven to 425˚ F.
-In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
-Roast for 15-20 minutes or until edges of cauliflower is golden brown.
-Remove from oven and immediately mix with lemon juice, raisins, pine nuts and thyme.
-Serve hot or warm.