Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Random Recipe Wednesday: Cauliflower Casserole

Let's talk about impulse purchases again.  The good thing about food is its short shelf life, meaning there's less chance to accumulate clutter.  Cookbooks, on the other hand, have a very long shelf life.  In fact, they spend most of their life on the shelf.  As my cookbook collection continues to grow I must be very careful about what I allow to live on my shelves.  A friend of mine recently introduced me to The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen.  She received it from her grandma as a wedding gift and has been enjoying it ever since.  I was immediately drawn in by the unique recipes and new ideas.  However, I was determined that no matter how much I wanted to finish reading it, I wouldn't go home and impulse buy a copy. (Why yes, I do read cookbooks like books, thanks for asking.)

In order to delay my purchase I decided to first check out a copy from the library and see if it was truly shelf-worthy.  After paging through and noting numerous recipes I couldn't wait to try, I was on the verge of a decision.  Is this cookbook really unique and inspiring enough to deserve a spot on my shelf?  While teetering on the edge of this decision, I found a used copy at a second hand store.  You may remember I'm a sucker for a good deal.

Still, I resisted.  I carried it around the store, stalling to look at other kitchen items I certainly don't need.  I went back to the bookshelf several times, putting it back, then picking it up again and flipping through the pages.  Suddenly out of nowhere (or the next aisle), a man comes up to me and says something along the lines of,  "No way, you found that here! That's a great cookbook, I would highly recommend it. Grab it while you can."   A good deal, high regards from a stranger, and the fact that if I put this back to think any longer he would have grabbed it off the shelf for himself.  So, you can guess what I walked out of the store with, right?

Technically my copy hasn't made it to the shelf yet, it's still parked on the counter.  I keep flipping through it trying to decide which recipe to make next.  I love the unique but realistic ideas and am inspired by the flavor combinations.  Today's recipe is my own twist on the first recipe I tried from the book.  Being in an indecisive (and far too wordy)  mood like yesterday, I actually ended up combining several ideas.  What started out as a pasta dish ended up being a cauliflower casserole.  Actually quinoa was involved the first round, but I ate the entire dish before taking a single picture, oops.

I'm pretty picky about texture, but I love what's going on in this dish. You'll be surprised at how well shredded cabbage and cottage cheese can work in a casserole.  The pairing of caraway and dill was new to me, but I can already tell it will become a familiar standby, especially when paired with a cheesy buttermilk sauce.  I enjoyed this just as much (okay, probably more) as cold leftovers.  Definitely a shelf-worthy cookbook purchase if I do say so myself.

Cauliflower Casserole
inspired by The New Moosewood Cookbook

1/2 Tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp caraway seed
1 cup tightly packed fresh spinach, finely chopped
4 cups chopped cauliflower**
1-1/2 cups low-fat cottage cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk (or 1/4 cup milk + 1 tsp lemon juice)
1-1/2 tsp dried dill weed
1/4 tsp black pepper

**Cauliflower can be finely or roughly chopped.  The larger the pieces, the longer the cooking time. For a more substantial dish try substituting part of cauliflower with cooked quinoa, white beans, garbanzos, potatoes or pasta.

* Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a 7-x-11-inch baking dish with nonstick spray; set aside.
* In a medium or large skillet melt butter over medium to medium-high heat. Saute onion 5 minutes; add garlic, cabbage, mushrooms, salt and caraway seed.  Continue cooking until cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in spinach and remove from heat.
* In a large bowl combine cauliflower, cottage cheese, buttermilk, dill weed and black pepper. Stir in sauteed vegetable mixture.  Pour into prepared baking dish and bake 35-40 minutes or until cauliflower is fork-tender.   Let stand 10-15 minutes before serving.  Extra liquid absorbs as the casserole cools, making it an excellent cold leftover.

Food for Thought: "Creativity is a great motivator because it makes people interested in what they are doing. Creativity gives hope that there can be a worthwhile idea. Creativity gives the possibility of some sort of achievement to everyone. Creativity makes life more fun and more interesting." -Edward de Bono

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