Cauliflower Kuku

036We had a lot of cauliflower during this most recent delivery from our CSA.  Two really huge, huge, huge heads that over-wintered here in the mild Oregon climate have become these wonderful gifts of spring.  When I got mine, I knew at least part of the head that came to me was going to become cauliflower kuku.

Similar to a frittata, I found the recipe a while ago on the Splendid Table website.  The first time I made it, I did it exactly as the recipe was written.  It turned out to be a bit too salty to my taste, but otherwise it was delicious.  Flavored with spices I love like cumin and colored a lovely color from the addition of tumeric and parsley, it was a delicious new way to enjoy a vegetable I love.  Unlike a traditional frittata, it uses fewer eggs which get a little lift and some body by the addition of some baking powder and a bit of flour.  It was good hot out of the oven and delicious heated up in the microwave (gently and briefly) for leftovers.  Accompanied by a buttered piece of grainy toast?  Nothing better!

If you’re making the recipe for the first time, I’d probably suggest following the Splendid Table instructions but reduce the salt — maybe 1/2 teaspoon instead of the 1 and 1/2 teaspoons.  The original recipe uses a combination of stove-top and oven cooking.  It keeps things simple — eggs, cauliflower, spices, and parsley.  It will let you know if this is a recipe for you.

Like most things, however, once I make a recipe I start thinking how I can use the base and go from there.  For example, I didn’t have parsley but I did have a huge bag of lovely spinach.  I figured spinach would add a lovely herbacious quality in the absence of the parsley and the delicate texture when cooked wouldn’t compete with the cauliflower.

I also cooked my cauliflower, most of the way, in the microwave.  Rather than waiting to boil water and blanch it, I decided it’d be faster and retain more flavor if I steamed it in the microwave.  I didn’t cook it all the way but most of the way.  My microwave is pretty old and weak so it took about 6 minutes but it might be half that in a newer, more powerful model.  I then sauteed it the rest of the way in olive oil in the pan.

031I stuck to the original recipe with the spices (cumin, turmeric, cayenne, a reduced amount of salt), but instead of using the recipe’s amounts, I used a nub of onion I had left from another recipe, a small clove of garlic, and chopped up leek scapes which we also got from the CSA.  They give a mild onion flavor to the dish and they kind of look like discs of asparagus in the final result.

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Beyond that, the technique is pretty simple:  Saute the onion/garlic/leek scape mixture in a bit of olive oil until tender and then add in the salt and spices.  In the original recipe, they use 1/4 cup oil.  I used maybe a tablespoon (half) this second time of making the kuku.  After letting them heat a bit in the fat, add in the cauliflower and cook until the cauliflower is tender (unless you did the blanching method and it’s already tender).

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Add in the spinach (or parsley if following the original recipe) and saute until wilted.  Mere minutes.  In a bowl nearby, whisk the 4 eggs, the baking powder and the flour (I use regular all-purpose flour since I didn’t have the types listed in the original recipe).  Once the spinach is cooked, you add in the egg mixture.  I didn’t have goat cheese so I just used some parmesan/romano cheese I had in the fridge.  It wasn’t as creamy as the first time I made the kuku but it was salty in a good way, especially since I had cut down on the salt overall — less than half of what the original recipe called for to be added.

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In the original recipe at that point you add in more oil and cook on top of the stove and then put into the oven to finish.  I skipped the extra oil and the top of the stove in favor of a little longer in the oven at 350 degrees — 12-14 minutes, depending on your oven.  You want it to be set so the eggs still stay tender and don’t get rubbery.

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Voila.  Kuku!  I could see this working and being delicious with other vegetables beyond cauliflower, but I am especially taken with the flavor of the vegetable and these spices.  Not masked but enhanced.  For any vegetarians or veggie-leaning foodies, this one is a keeper.051

The key is the ratio for the egg mixture:  4 eggs, 1/4 t. baking powder and 1 T. flour.  If one could remember only the ratio for the eggs, you could make endless variations on this dish using other herbs and or spices.  It’s a good basic ratio and cooking technique (350 degree oven, 12-14 minutes) to have in one’s back pocket for future cooking.



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