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Chef Walter’s Flavors + Knowledge: Cauliflowers With Golden Raisins

Wednesday, October 05, 2016


Cauliflower belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, kale, and cabbage. It derives its name from Latin caulis which means cabbage with a flower. The florets on the head of the cauliflower, also known as curd, are tightly clustered and consist of immature flower buds attached to a central stalk. To protect the flavor and softness of the cauliflower heads, they are protected from the sunlight to prevent development of chlorophyll pigment and over-maturity. Cauliflower has been suggested to be native to ancient Asia, but re-emerged in the Mediterranean region, Turkey, and Italy around 600 BC. Around the mid-16th century, cauliflower achieved recognition in France and Northern Europe. Today, India, China, Italy, France, and the United States are among the top producers of cauliflower throughout the world. Oven-roasting cauliflower gives you the same crispy florets and concentrated flavor as pan-frying, without all the messy grease. Plus, as the cauliflower roasts in this recipe, you have time to crisp up some breadcrumbs and plump some raisins in sherry vinegar. Then, toss everything together with some garlic, red pepper flakes, and parsley. Serve this flavorful side dish next to a stuffed pork loin or a seared steak.

Serves 10


1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), trimmed and cut into 1-1/2-inch florets

1/4 cup olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed

1/4 cup golden raisins, also known as sultanas, coarsely chopped

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons water

4 ounces French or Italian bread (about 1 [2-inch] slice), crust removed

2 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves


Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place a baking sheet in the oven as it heats.

Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and drizzle it with 3 tablespoons of the oil. Add the measured salt and, using your hands, toss to coat. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and carefully spread the cauliflower on it in an even layer. Reserve the bowl for later (no need to wipe it out). Roast the cauliflower, stirring halfway through, until deeply browned in spots, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, plump the raisins and make the breadcrumb mixture.

Place the raisins, vinegar, and water in a large frying pan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring often, until the raisins are heated through and the liquid has almost all evaporated, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the raisins to a small heatproof bowl, and set aside. Reserve the pan.

Using your hands, tear the bread into pieces about the size of raisins and place in the reserved large bowl (you should have about 1 1/4 cups); set aside.

Return the reserved frying pan to medium heat, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and heat until shimmering. Add the breadcrumbs, season with salt, and stir to combine. Toast the breadcrumbs, stirring occasionally, until golden brown all over, about 8 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, wipe out the bowl with paper towels and set it aside.

When the breadcrumbs are done, add the garlic and red pepper flakes to the pan, and stir to combine. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Remove the breadcrumb mixture to the reserved bowl. Add the roasted cauliflower, plumped raisins and any liquid, and parsley to the bowl and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt as needed. Transfer to a serving platter and serve immediately.

Note on Cauliflowers

Besides the delicious savory taste, cauliflower offers great nutritional value that can be attributed to the presence of power-packed phytochemicals that help in fighting various diseases and promote stronger immunity, while aiding in the maintenance of a clean system.

Cauliflower is available in four major groups: Asian, Italian, Northwest European biennial, and Northern European annuals, represented by more than a hundred varieties. Apart from white, it also comes in several other colors mentioned below.

Green: Green cauliflower is also referred to as brocco flower. It can be found in normal curd shaped form as well as in a spiky variant called Romanesco broccoli.

Purple: The antioxidant group anthocyanins present in the purple cauliflower provides the color for this variety.

Orange: Orange cauliflower is very nutritious and contains immense amount of vitamin A, as compared to the white variety.


Master Chef Walter Potenza is the owner of Potenza Ristorante in Cranston, Chef Walters Cooking School and Chef Walters Fine Foods. His fields of expertise include Italian Regional Cooking, Historical Cooking from the Roman Empire to the Unification of Italy, Sephardic Jewish Italian Cooking, Terracotta Cooking, Diabetes and Celiac. Recipient of National and International accolades, awarded by the Italian Government as Ambassador of Italian Gastronomy in the World. Currently on ABC6 with Cooking Show “Eat Well."  Check out the Chef's website and blog.


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