Cauliflower is probably one of the blandest tasting vegetables around, in my opinion. It always needs help to give it some flavor. Toasted breadcrumbs are a staple in Sicilian cooking. This staple came about because it was sacrilegious to throw away even a morsel of bread, bread being the staff of life. Frugal housewives would toast dried breadcrumbs to add to many of their dishes. Add some garlic, lemon, cheese, and parsley to toasted breadcrumbs and you have the makings of a very tasty crumb topping.
I like to maintain the original shape of the cauliflower throughout cooking but it isn’t necessary. It just makes a better presentation. The topping can also be used for broccoli and can be made a few hours in advance.
Cauliflower with Lemon Garlic Crumb Topping
Difficulty Rating: Easy
Makes 6-8 servings.
1 large cauliflower
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese
Cook the Cauliflower: Wash the cauliflower head, turn it upside down on a cutting board and remove the bottom leaves.
Using a small sharp knife, cut out as much of the stem heart as you can.
Cut into florets and place in a large pot. Add salt and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover with a lid, reduce heat and cook until tender but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain the cauliflower.
Prepare the Topping: While the cauliflower is cooking, heat the oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until it just begins to color at the edges.
Using a wooden spoon and stirring constantly, add the breadcrumbs and toast until golden. Remove from heat, transfer to a bowl and allow to cool for several minutes. Stir in the parsley and cheese, and season with salt and pepper.
Squeeze the juice of half lemon onto the mixture and stir to combine.
To Assemble: Place the cauliflower on a serving dish and top with breadcrumb mixture.