Thursday, June 21, 2012

coincidence. and, chickpea & cauliflower picatta.

chickpea picatta
let's not lie to each other, ok?
this does not look pretty.
it's pale and brown and greyish
and every other word that you want
to use to describe...bleh. it's the kind of
picture that would have made my former
boss insist that we add a bunch of julienned
bell peppers and herbs, just to jazz things up a little.

but, those peppers?
they would have made me really unhappy.
because this dinner was incredible and
peppers would have ruined it.

it's a shame about the picture.

three months ago,
i searched around on my new blog find,
the post punk kitchen
which i told you about last time,
until i stumbled upon the recipe for
chickpea picatta. i love picatta -
the lemon,
the capers,
the sauce -
it's the chicken i could do without.

this one looked perfect:
easy for dinner,
full of shallots and capers,
lots of lemon
in place of that pesky standard protein, chickpeas.
i was dubious though: while i didn't need the egg-laced
pan-fried chicken, i wasn't sure that this version -
batter-less and pan fried-less -
was close enough to really share a recipe title.

i bought all the ingredients, plus a cauliflower that i
thought was needed for heft, and planned to make
the picatta for dinner the following night.
when i got home though, i was greeted with
a set of ingredients identical to the ones in my bag.
somehow, on larry's night to cook, he had stumbled
across the same recipe and was beating me to
the punch by 24 hours.
i thought it was weirder than he did.

larry hadn't planned on potatoes or pasta
or cauliflower for
sopping up the sauce - just wilted arugula.
it was too far into the quick
cooking process to do anything else, so we split
the entire pot between the two plates.
i could not believe how good it was.
i had no idea what to make for dinner the next night.
chickpeas and capers
as i ate the picatta,
i was sad that the arugula underneath,
by now partially wilted,
was running low.
i was imagining myself finishing
the lemony, briny, shallot-laced sauce
with a spoon,
lest leaving any of it to be washed off my plate.
i tossed in extra arugula. the sauce, now cooler,
coated the leaves like a dressing.
it was good enough for me.
i looked at larry who was doing the same thing.

we were one step short of licking our plates.
cauliflower steaks
cauliflower florets
when i made it myself recently,
i really wanted leftovers, so i opted to go
back to my original plan: cauliflower steaks.
i quickly realized that i would only be able
to get two from the head and decided that would be
good enough. i'd roast the rest as florets and
toss those with the leftovers. i also decided to skip
searing the steaks, in hopes of cutting back on
oil, time and mess. they all went into the oven
while i started slicing shallots.
1 cup sliced shallots
and then i realized how easy this recipe is.
slice a bunch of shallots, then some garlic
and saute everything with breadcrumbs;
simmer into a quick sauce using wine and
broth. finish with lemon and capers.
call it a day.
had i made a bigger deal about this picatta
than i really should have? was i wasting
a meal making this twice?

and then, i tasted it.
nope - just as simple and good
as last time.
not dinner party, fancy good.
but definitely, after work, great.
golden cauliflower steaks
with breadcrumbs
i filled two dishes with arugula,
not bothering to measure and topped
each with a golden cauliflower steak.
i divided half the chickpeas and sauce
over the whole thing and rushed it
outside to better light to take a picture.
it was chillier
than i thought it would be.
i wanted to go back inside.
i really should have kept some of the
arugula aside to garnish the top.
i tried to get a good picture.
i thought i did.
we ate it before looking at the pictures
(i was foolishly confident).
we loved it again.
and then, i looked at these sad
pictures. they make the sauce look
unappealing, the cauliflower look burnt.

they lie, i tell you.
they lie.
chickpea picatta close-up

chickpea & cauliflower picatta
adapted from post punk kitchen
so here's the thing about the cauliflower (the thing that almost made me make this recipe again before telling you about it): i liked it better the next day, when those cauliflower florets were mixed in and given the opportunity to soak up the sauce. it was fancier with those cauliflower steaks, but i put my money on the simpler pieces any day. i've written it with steak directions - in case you're really curious - but only because i can't stand when a recipe is written one way, but looks another. (just keep in mind that unless you're a miracle worker, you'll only be able to get two steaks out of one head of cauliflower.) also - i've upped the sauce. the first time, when the meal was split between the two of us, the sauce was overly generous. this time, i considered it to be a passable amount. here, i've multiplied everything by 1 1/2 (except for the chickpeas, cauliflower and arugula).

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced shallots (about 6 large shallots)
9 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 medium head cauliflower, either sliced into two steaks and then florets, or just cored and cut into florets
3 tablespoons whole wheat breadcrumbs
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup white wine
black pepper (about a pinch)
dried thyme (about a pinch)
1 can (16 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup capers, with a bit of the brine
4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice (from about 2 juicy lemon)
4-6 cups arugula

arrange racks in bottom and top thirds of oven. heat oven to 425˚f.

in large skillet over medium heat, warm olive oil. add shallots and garlic and cook 5 minutes, or until slightly golden and softened, stirring often. 

meanwhile, if using all florets: divide cauliflower between two aluminum foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. spray with cooking spray (or alternatively toss with additional olive oil); sprinkle with kosher salt and black pepper. toss to combine. if using steaks and florets: place steaks on one aluminum foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. coat with cooking spray; sprinkle with salt and pepper. use second baking sheet for florets.

roast 20-25 minutes, alternating baking sheets from top to bottom of rack midway through cooking, tossing florets and flipping steaks (the steaks are delicate), until golden brown.

add breadcrumbs to the shallots and garlic; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. add vegetable broth, thyme, black pepper, thyme and kosher salt to taste. increase heat; bring to a rolling boil. reduce heat to a simmer and cook 7 minutes, or until mixture is thickened and reduced by half.

add chickpeas and capers; cook 3 minutes more, or until heated through. add lemon juice; stir to combine. turn off heat. 

divide arugula among four bowls or deep plates. top with cauliflower steaks or florets. divide chickpea mixture and sauce among bowls.