When I was a kid my mom would make a dish she called ‘Hungarian Cauliflower’. Steamed cauliflower, topped with strained yogurt and toasty bread crumbs with a sprinkle of bright paprika. I haven’t had it in years. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about it in years – until a few weeks ago.
My mom’s Hungarian Cauliflower was earthy, crunchy, creamy and delicious – a weeknight favorite. It’s funny how old favorites fizzle, though, when you move out on your own. I can’t tell you why I’ve never made Hungarian Cauliflower, or the famous family ‘Albergetti’ (something akin to homemade Spaghetti-O’s) or even my mom’s potato-chip topped chicken noodle casserole.
But when I stepped into Michael Schlow’s new Boston restaurant, Tico, I can assure you that Hungarian Cauliflower was the last thing on my mind. I was looking for spicy two textured beef tacos, and sweet tres leches ice cream … not a blast from the past.
Then a small plate of creamy, smoky cauliflower florets arrived on our table, and I was transported. The cauliflower was roasted, not steamed, and the creamy sauce laced with chipotle. But the food memory was there nonetheless. Tico’s cauliflower was topped with a bit of crumbly, salty Mexican cheese, and crunchy fava beans – not exactly bread crumbs, but quite a flavor combination.
After that meal at Tico, I bought a head of cauliflower thinking I’d make Mom’s Hungarian Cauliflower. Of course, as soon as I got home I realized that we had no bread crumbs – not even a lonely crust of bread from which to make bread crumbs. Typical of my haphazard shopping. But then again, most of my recipe innovations arise from missing ingredients.
So I roasted the cauliflower and tossed it with chipotle-laced yogurt, sprinkled it with a bit of salty cheese, and a few pumpkin seeds from the back of the cupboard. And I have to say, it turned out quite wonderfully. This recipe has all the nutty flavor and smokey punch of the dish at Tico and all of the homey creaminess of my mom’s cauliflower. And even better… this version is seriously healthy.
Creamy Chipotle Cauliflower
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 medium head cauliflower
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper
3/4 cup fat free Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon bottled chipotle hot sauce
1/4 cup pepitas (hulled pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Toss the cauliflower with the oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast about 25 minutes until browned on the edges. Cool slightly.
Meanwhile, mix together the yogurt and the hot sauce. Arrange the pepitas on a baking sheet and roast in the 400 degree oven for 3-5 minutes, until lightly toasted. Toss the cauliflower with the yogurt mixture and top with the cheese and pepitas. Serve warm.