I always admit to an intolerance of intolerants of any stripe. Contradictory I know, but it's my blog, so what can you do? In my regular Thursday email to my constituents at VINO, where I talk about our weekend wine tastings, I got off a little on vegans (they're such a fun target, sitting there in their hemp fabric outfits, sallow-complected, all weak from lack of meat protein): "I'm not big on extreme, not very well thought out views (in spite of what you might think every week when you read this). Since most, if not all, of my thoughts revolve around food and wine and my next meal, I tend to peruse a ton of food related books, blogs, and magazines. My favorite tidbit this week came out of the new Saveur I was leafing through at home yesterday. They were reviewing vegetarian cookbooks. Now I don't have anything against vegetarian cooking. Some of my favorite dishes, including an awesome cauliflower side we had last night (check out the blog in the next couple of days for the recipe), are meat free delights. It's vegans I don't get. I side more with Anthony Bourdain, who called them "the Hezbollah-like offshoot of vegetarians". Of course I also think that duck fat is one of God's greatest creations. One of the books reviewed by Saveur was a vegan-oriented tome called "Veganomicon". In the intro to the book, the authors express this lament (and I don't think they're kidding): "Why nobody believes us when we mutter things about sacrificing beets under the full moon, we'll never guess." Um, okay. And as good as a tub of margarine sounds, I'll stick to butter, thanks."
As I mentioned, having said all that, I did promise the recipe for this off-the-charts (vegan!!) cauliflower dish we had a couple of nights ago. It was another find from the Wednesday NYT Dining section, and it was so fucking good that I just kept looking at w with this wide-eyed, slack jawed look (that I'm sure was very attractive) and muttered things like "oh fuck" and "holy shit" and all my other erudite food descriptors when I'm having mouth-gasms. In any event, this is kind of like a cauliflower paella, and is an absolute do-over at our house, and something you need to spring on your family and friends. Hm, maybe those whacked out vegans are on to something!
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Cauliflower With Tomatoes and Pimentón
from the New York Times
time: 20 minutes
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 mild dried chile, optional
1/2 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon slivered garlic
2 plum tomatoes, fresh or canned, diced
1 tablespoon sweet or hot pimentón (smoked Spanish paprika)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish, optional.
1. Put cauliflower and 1 tablespoon water in a covered glass bowl and microwave on high power until quite soft (a thin-bladed knife will penetrate with almost no effort), about 7 minutes. Uncover and let cool. Meanwhile, put oil in a large skillet or casserole over medium heat and add chile, if using, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion softens, about 5 minutes.
2. Add garlic, tomato and about 1/4 cup of water, raise heat a bit, and cook until mixture is saucy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, crumble cauliflower (if it’s still hot, mash it with a potato masher or use a couple of knives to chop it up in the bowl) and stir it into sauce, along with pimentón, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is coated with sauce and hot. Taste and adjust seasoning, then garnish and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.
Yield: 4 or more servings.