At Home With Nature

Food: Cauliflower and Mushroom Sauté

Last night as dinner time approached, I looked in the fridge. Nothing to eat, or so it seemed. I looked in the cupboard. I considered cooking a box of (gluten free) pasta and tossing in some vegetables. But pasta, when it’s a fallback and not an excitement, is never a good thing. For me, eating pasta in these moments leaves me feeling unsatisfied and kind of like a cheat.

As Chad and I wait for our garden plants to get bigger and produce vegetables, we are trying to make do with what we have in the cupboard along with a few purchases from the local grocery and the edible weeds in the yard. I looked in the fridge again – cauliflower. I looked in the cupboard. What was behind those containers of seaweed? Dried mushrooms. Chanterelles, no less. Hmm.

I thought about it. I figured I would give it a try.

I soaked the mushrooms – about two cups – in some water while I worked on the head of cauliflower. I unwrapped it from its plastic, rinsed it under the tap, and placed it on the cutting board. I chopped it into smallish pieces (including the stalk and the leaves), poured a little oil into a pan, turned the stove to medium, added the cauliflower, and put a lid on the pan.

I considered whether or not I should cook pasta with this meal. I decided not to.

By the time the cauliflower was starting to get slightly tender, the mushrooms had re-hydrated enough for my purposes. I took my colander, put it over a bowl (to catch the soaking liquid) and then drained the mushrooms but did not pat them dry. I threw the mushrooms in with the cauliflower and covered the pan again. I decided the moisture from the wet mushrooms would help balance out the dry cauliflower and create some steam in the pan.

I fished a couple of cloves of garlic out of the garlic basket, peeled them, and sliced them. Then I threw the sliced garlic into the pan. Lately, I have been moving away from the traditional method of heating the garlic in oil before cooking the other ingredients, preferring the more subtle taste and soft texture of garlic that is gently steam-sautéed rather than fried.

When I heard the ingredients start to sizzle, I opened the lid and added some of the mushroom soaking liquid. After a few minutes, I added a bit more, then a pinch of sea salt.

I was not expecting much from this meal.

Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that is easy to do wrong. It’s often just a boring, steamed side dish to a more exciting centerpiece. But when you do it right? Oh, baby. Sauteed in a little olive oil with chanterelle mushrooms and garlic, it was actually sublime.

Meals like this remind me that you don’t have to have a serving of grains to make a meal satisfying. And that for most of us, there’s probably never really “nothing” in the fridge.

Cauliflower with chanterelle mushrooms and garlic. Plain yogurt or sour cream on top is optional.

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