Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Curried Brassica (what's in my fridge)

hi folks!
I had a crazy day at work today, and what kept me going was thinking about what I would make for dinner. For a while I've been wanting to thank all of you for reading here- writing this blog, thinking about food, cooking, and especially posting here, has made me more experimental, more willing to try throwing things together. By reading what my awesome co-blogger Kitty is working on, and cooking for you guys, I am getting better at combining ingredients to make flavors, and I really hope all of you have been finding the posts helpful in your kitchens. or at least finding them to be entertaining.

So I had a long day, and was looking forward to coming home to watch some JV-squad pre-playoffs basketball (Celtics beat the Heat again!) and sitting on my couch. I have been traveling a fair amount, and I had some things in my fridge that I wanted to use up, but was also (conveniently) craving. Namely, cauliflower. I came home with an idea about some crispy spicy cauliflower. I was picturing it kind of pan fried and browned. I was excited about this mental picture. I did not end up executing this mental picture. Instead, I ended up with a curry-sauced cauliflower and broccoli over orzo. What? How? Want to retrace my steps with me? I know you do.

Cauliflower. I knew I had some in my fridge. It was about a week old, and more than I wanted to use it up, I really wanted to make something good. I was thinking I wanted it kind of pan fried with crispy bits, spicy and curried. I wasn't sure exactly how to go about it, and I didn't have a lot of cauliflower, but I had some broccoli to supplement it with, so I figured I would take what I knew about cooking B. oleracea, of the Brassica family (kale, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, kai-lan, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi) and try to put something together.

I put some water onto boil, and cut the cauliflower (about 1/4 of a head) and broccoli (2 stalks) up into medium-sized florets. Once the water was boiling, I threw them all in to par-boil. The broccoli I removed from the water after ~4 minutes, the cauliflower after ~7 minutes.
I refreshed them by running under cold water, and then spun in the salad spinner to get rid of excess water.

I cut 1 clove of garlic up into thin slices and heated about 1 tablespoon of safflower oil over medium heat. I used safflower oil instead of my go-to olive oil because I didn't want a flavor-ful oil. Once the oil was shimmering, I added the sliced garlic and the broccoli and cauliflower. I let them cook for about 5 minutes over a medium heat, turning the veggies to they would brown a bit. At this point I opened up the spice cabinet and pulled out a few things- curry (mild and spicy), coriander, cayenne pepper, and some crushed red pepper.

I added about a teaspoon each of coriander, cayenne, and crushed red pepper. I stirred the spices into the vegetables, turning the heat down to medium-low and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Once the pan had cooled down a bit, I added a can of coconut milk*, stirring it into the pan, and then added about 4 tablespoons of nonfat plain yogurt, 1 teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of mild curry and 2 tablespoons of the spicy curry. I don't have much experience cooking with curry powder, (although I have learned from our curry excursions here, and here) but I really like both mild and spicy flavors of curry powder so put 'em both in. Yeah. I have no idea what I'm doing. I soon realized that with the full can of coconut milk and yogurt, the veggies were cooking in a fair amount of liquid, and without something to serve it over, I was going to be eating it like soup.

I went to the cupboard. I wanted some white rice, it cooks quick. Somehow, I didn't have any white rice on hand (shhhh. don't tell Kitty). I saw brown rice in there... I saw quinoa in there... I saw bulgur in there... I had some lentils too, but none of them were what I wanted.

I wanted white rice, and I was out. Are you on pins and needles? What was I to do? I had a half a box of orzo in the cabinet, and no I will not tell you how long that open box of pasta had been sitting there, but I decided that was my best bet. I put on the water to boil.

While the water boiled for the orzo, I tasted the sauce on my veggies. It needed salt, so I added a little more, tasted again, but felt like it was sitll missing something. I added the juice of 1/2 of a lemon, and that helped to brighten the flavor a bit. If I had had some white wine open, I would have added that earlier on to allow it to help develop the flavors, but somehow I didn't have any open (shhhh. don't tell Kitty).

The orzo was done after ~10 minutes of boiling, I drained it and put it in a bowl. I poured the veggie curry over the orzo. I dug in. I was almost tempted to tag this post as a "fail" but it came out pretty good. It would have been better with rice and with all cauliflower, but for what I had hanging around the kitchen? I was happy. I even have lunch for tomorrow, and I have to say that the longer the curry sits over the orzo, the better it gets. So get in there, and use up what's in the fridge, the cupboard, the cabinets, I'm sure there's good stuff in there.


PS- Anyone have any suggestions on doing a pan-fried crispy, spicy cauliflower? let me know!

*full disclosure, I initially typed "coconut juice" because I was having a brain fart- what was it actually called? So I got up to go look at the can in the sink. sigh. coconut milk. I knew that.


  1. WHAT'S THIS ABOUT NOT HAVING WHITE RICE/WINE??? idk who you are anymore...

    This sounds yummy, i looooove the flavors of cauliflower and curry together. idk about crispy pan-fried but i would toss cauliflower florets with butter, olive oil, roast garlic & curry powder and roast @ 400 for a yummy crisp.. and i might toss in some capers for the last 5min.

  2. mmm. like this suggestion. next time.