Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Caramelized Cauliflower with Bacon and Spinach

In my humble opinion, few vegetables take on caramelization as beautifully as cauliflower. I could eat Dijon-Roasted Cauliflower by the pound, and it was hard to tear myself away from one of my all-time favorite recipes to try something new with the many heads of cauliflower I've bought at the farmers' market this fall. Although it's become a cliche, bacon really does make things better. Vegetarians, vegans, and those adhering to a strict kosher diet aside, I don't know many people who don't love that smoky, salty, savory perfection. Bacon is a really high-mileage food - just a little bit gives a dish a lot of flavor and meatiness. I'm a meat lover, but not a huge meat consumer for environmental, moral, and health reasons, so when I do incorporate meat into my diet, I like to make the most out of my indulgence. The smoky bacon extravagance is balanced by fresh dill and spinach and bright lemon juice, creating a well-rounded dish that could almost be a meal in itself (and if you throw in a can of white beans or chickpeas, it most certainly can be). A balance of luxury and nutrition, this dish celebrates is a perfect way to celebrate one of the best vegetables fall has to offer.

Caramelized Cauliflower with Bacon and Spinach
adapted from Food and Wine
serves 4

2 ounces thick-cut bacon, sliced into small pieces
1 small cauliflower (1 1/4 pounds), cored and cut into small florets
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped dill
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 ounces baby spinach

1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until the fat has been rendered and bacon is crisp. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

2. Stir in the cauliflower, onion, dill and bay leaf and season with salt and pepper. Cover, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and browned, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and stir in the spinach, stirring constantly until the spinach is just beginning to wilt.

2. In a large bowl, mix the lemon juice with the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cauliflower mixture, toss and serve, garnished with the bacon bits.

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