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Steamed Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Toasted Almonds

Cauliflower has always been one of my favorite vegetables, but broccoli is much more likely than cauliflower to end up in my shopping cart when I walk through the produce section of the grocery store.  I think it’s a color thing.  Broccoli is green and everyone knows that that green is good for you. Because of this, simple steamed broccoli has always been my go-to side dish when I need to round out a dinner plate with some extra color.  And even though I know that cauliflower is a healthy cruciferous vegetable and an excellent source of vitamin C, it just doesn’t look that healthy.  There’s no color!

By the way, I probably have some family members out there laughing right now about my “healthy” choice of steamed broccoli as a dinner side dish.  The truth is that just about every bite of that broccoli gets dunked into mayonnaise before it ever reaches my mouth.

Yes, I really do that.

When I lived in Sicily, I ate more cauliflower than I do now.  I bought it at the outdoor markets all the time because most of the cauliflower in Sicily was a beautiful purple variety.  Plastic-wrapped white cauliflower in American grocery stores just doesn’t have the same kind of visual appeal.

That’s why I’m so glad I made it to the Vineyard Farmer’s Market on Saturday after weeks of missing it for one reason or another.  Cauliflower season is in full swing and I saw the cutest little baby heads of cauliflower (wrapped in delicate green leaves rather than plastic) and I just couldn’t resist taking them home.  Yes, I probably paid a bit more for the baby ones just because of the cute factor.  But that’s okay.

When I got them home, my first thought was to drizzle the small heads of cauliflower with some olive oil mixed with garlic and spices, wrap them individually in foil, and bake them whole.  I’ve never done that before, but they seemed to be the perfect size for it.  I was definitely leaning toward the foil-wrapped baked cauliflower until I flipped through Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and noticed a steamed cauliflower variation that included curry butter, lime juice, cilantro, and toasted cashews.  After reading that, I knew I’d have to give it a try, especially since I had also purchased a bunch of cilantro from the farmer’s market.

The curry butter in the recipe is simply a mixture of butter and curry powder and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try out the McCormick Gourmet Red Curry Powder that has been sitting on my kitchen counter taunting me.  I’ve used both the McCormick Gourmet Curry Powder and Hot Madras Curry Powders before, but the Red Curry Powder is a new-to-me blend that includes coriander, cumin, chili pepper, red pepper, and cardamom and I’ve been dying to experiment with it.  The scent is intoxicating and since some of the red color in the curry powder comes from red pepper, it has a bit of a kick that I really like.

I made a few changes to Deborah Madison’s recipe.  I had one lonely shallot left in my onion basket so I decided to chop that up and saute it in the butter before adding the curry powder.  I used lemon juice rather than lime (since that’s what I had in the fridge) and substituted slivered almonds for the cashews (I do live in almond country, after all).  If you have cashews rather than almonds on hand, I’m sure they’d be fantastic.  I also added a teaspoon of honey to the curry butter mixture, mainly because I had just replenished my supply of local honey at the farmer’s market and it was sitting on the counter when I first started cooking.  I think it worked.

This is a rather simple recipe, but it does requires a bit of preparation: cut the cauliflower into small florets, chop the shallot (or onion), mince the cilantro, juice the lemon, etc.  Cooking is so much easier if you take the time to prep your ingredients and have them all in the same place!

Start by toasting the almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat.

Toss them around until they start turning golden brown and smell toasted.  Once this happens, remove them from the pan immediately or they’ll keep browning.  Set them aside while you prepare the cauliflower.

Next, steam the cauliflower until just tender.  If it’s cut into small florets like these, it will only take 5 or 6 minutes once the water starts boiling.

Heat some butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat.

Add the chopped shallot and cook for a few minutes until softened.

Next add the curry powder.

Cook and stir the curry powder for only about 30 seconds.

Next, turn the heat to low and stir in the lemon juice, honey, and cilantro.

Now just throw in the steamed cauliflower and toasted almonds and toss to combine.  Season to taste with a pinch of salt and you’re ready to eat!

Enjoy as is or spooned over some steamed rice – it’s especially good with brown rice.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a big box full of McCormick Gourmet spices (which are now scattered throughout my kitchen and living room since my spice cabinet is already bulging). I have been using McCormick Gourmet spices for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore some of their spices and blends that I had never tried before, such as the McCormick Gourmet Red Curry Powder I used in this cauliflower dish.

Cauliflower with Curry Butter and Almonds
adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison

Serves 4.

1 medium head of cauliflower, about 2 pounds
4 tablespoons butter 1 shallot, peeled and finely diced (can use 1/2 a small onion)
2 teaspoons curry powder (I used McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Curry Powder)*
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
3-4 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted**
salt, to taste

Rinse cauliflower under cold water and cut into small florets.  Steam cauliflower in a basket over boiling water for 5-8 minutes, or until just tender.  Remove the cauliflower to a plate or bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a large skillet or saute pan over medium heat.   Add shallot and cook, stirring, until softened.  Add curry powder and stir for another 30 seconds.   Stir in lemon juice, cilantro, and honey.  Add steamed cauliflower and almonds and toss until well combined and heated through.  Season to taste with salt.

Serve over steamed white or brown rice or alone, as a side dish.

Recipe Notes:  *The amount of curry powder may be adjusted to suit your own taste.  I used McCormick Gourmet Collection Red Curry Powder and the resulting dish was just a bit spicy (the way I like it).  If your curry powder is especially spicy, you may want to use less. **Toast slivered almonds in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking the pan or stirring often, until they start to turn golden.  Immediately remove almonds to a dish or bowl to stop the toasting.