Cauliflower with Anchovy Bread Crumbs


As much as I love roasted cauliflower, the anchovy breadcrumbs (crunchy! salty! umami!) are really the heroes here.I made them for the first time when I was fixing a simple dinner, and a platter of plain roasted cauliflower just seemed to be begging for something special. There was a stale loaf of bread on the counter and a tin of anchovies in the cupboard. Done and done. Learning to re purpose old bread into bread crumbs is a small victory that feeds my hate-to-throw-out-useful-things soul. To make them, simply break stale bread into small pieces and pulse them in a food processor until they’re as fine or as coarse as you’d like them. Coarse is best for this recipe.

SERVES 4

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets

1/2 cup [120 ml] extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 garlic clove, minced

4 oil-packed anchovies, drained

1 1/2 cups [210 g] coarse bread crumbs (see head note)

1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh Italian parsley Preheat your oven to 425°F [220°C]. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Put the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with 3 Tbsp of the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and toss everything together. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and well browned, about 40 minutes.Transfer to a serving platter.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat,warm 3 Tbsp olive oil. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring, until the anchovies have completely disintegrated into the oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook,stirring frequently, until they’ve absorbed all of the oil an dare brown and a bit crisp, about 5 minutes. Stir in the pepper and parsley and remove from the heat.

Scatter the bread crumbs evenly over the cauliflower and drizzle everything with the remaining 2 Tbsp olive oil. Serve immediately.

SPIN-OFFS

SERVE THE ANCHOVY BREAD CRUMBS ON TOP OFSPAGHETTI in lieu of or in addition to cheese. It can be plain spaghetti that’s simply been tossed with olive oil and garlic, or just with tomato sauce, or even white clam sauce.

TURN THE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER INTO SOUP by pureeing it with 6 cups [1.4 L] chicken stock. Serve each bowl topped with anchovy bread crumbs.

You can make bread crumbs the same way using DIFFERENT FLAVORINGS, substituting chopped rosemary for the anchovies, for example, or substituting fresh oregano for the parsley. For a VEGAN VERSION,use capers instead of anchovies. For a CHEESY VERSION, you can add some finely grated Parmesan or pecorino at the last minute. These are excellent on top of tomato soup.


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