~Sunday, May 19, 2013
Quick! What’s white in color, has no fat, and can turn a mac and cheese dish into a good source of vitamin C, fiber, and potassium? Normally, anything white makes the diet-conscious eater think, “Not me. No thank you!” However, this pale pal is a low-carb-lover’s dream! Give up yet? (I know… I threw you a curve ball with the mac and cheese dish, didn’t I?) Okay, one more hint: It’s a cruciferous vegetable; for examples, broccoli and kale. Yup—you guessed it!—cauliflower.
I better begin by explaining my mac and cheese statement.
One of my favorite food journalists and cookbook authors is Mark Bittman. Why is he a personal favorite?: He eats the way I eat!—lots of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; an occasional dinner including lean meat; and very small amounts of processed foods. (Many people were surprised to find page after page of healthy ingredients in my Italian cookbook, You Never Grow Old at the Dinner Table; however, my book reflects the true Italian culture of healthy eating—and living!) I first discovered Mark Bittman and his delicious recipes in his column in Runner’s World magazine, and yes, this is where the ‘mac and cheese’ comes into play. Bittman’s version of this all-time American comfort dish achieves its creamy texture by using well-cooked cauliflower. The recipe is great!—and opens up a totally new approach in the culinary world of “creamy.”
Therefore, a couple weeks ago, when my mom told me she created and jotted down a new recipe for me—a creamy cauliflower soup!—I thought, “Bring it on!” (as if I didn’t already have a million reasons to love my mom).
Cauliflower and Potato Soup
Ingredients (Serves 4 to 6) as the main dish
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to drizzle
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 small cauliflower head, cut into florets and sliced
5 medium russet potatoes, diced into ¾-inch cubes
6 cups water
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame, and sauté celery, carrots, and onion for 10 minutes; then add cauliflower and potatoes to sauté 5 additional minutes, mixing occasionally. Add the water, bring to a boil and add the bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper. Cover and reduce to a simmer. Cook for approximately an hour and 15 minutes.
Remove from heat and stir in parsley; adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.
This soup can be served chunky, but my mom achieves a creamy consistency by using a wooden spatula to mash the cauliflower and potatoes against the sides of the pot the last 5 minutes of cooking time.