Cauliflower is an often neglected, misunderstood vegetable, but who knew that this could be the perfect vehicle for Champagne? Every bite is a mouthful of lightly sweet and silky, yet crisp-edged florets. These succulent bites of caramelized heaven are a simple and wonderful addition to a variety of main courses and will make the most zealous anti-veggie person fall in love. One word of caution: This tastes so good that it can inspire addictive tendencies.
1 head cauliflower, about 2-3 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
¾ cup chicken broth or stock
1 cup Champagne
1 tablespoon chopped fresh or 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh black pepper
½ cup finely grated Gruyère
Rinse cauliflower, drain and cut into quarters. Cut off and discard leaves and cores; separate quarters into florets.
Heat olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium-high heat; add garlic and shallots. Sauté until soft and just beginning to be golden, but do not brown (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally.
Add sugar and broth, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add Champagne and cauliflower. Cover and cook over medium-high heat until cauliflower is fork tender, about 5 minutes.
Once tender, uncover and remove cauliflower with a slotted spoon. Place in a baking dish. Season with tarragon, salt and pepper. Top with Gruyère and broil until golden and cheese is melted, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, continue to cook remaining Champagne liquid, uncovered over medium heat, until reduced by half to thicker glaze consistency, about 3 more minutes. Once golden, transfer cauliflower to a serving dish and serve immediately. Spoon the sauce over to glaze.
Recipe and photo by Monica Glass