Comforting gratin of cauliflower, tomatoes and kale in a yogurt-harissa sauce, topped with cheese and breadcrumbs.
The moment the weather shifts to cool and drizzly, with murky skies another type of 50 shades of gray, I yearn for soft, liquidy, melty, oozy, food that sticks to my bones.
No matter where you live, how much money you have or don’t have, your religion, or ethnic background, at least three or four foods immediately comes to mind when you read ‘comfort food’. And maybe something more: memories, images, aromas, stories.
I’m not breaking new ground here, but for me, comfort food is food I have a relationship with. Emotional history. The smells of which transport me to a day I ran in from outside, little fingers stiff and cold, and plopped down to a grilled cheese sandwich oozing cheese onto the plate and my fingers, and a piping hot bowl of tomato soup.
Comfort food is a big warm hug from the past.
More than that, comfort food and me, we’re bonded by trust. When I’m sick, the only food I want is the chicken noodle soup and toasted saltine crackers dripping with melted butter that got me through countless colds and flus as a kid. No other will do.
The problem is, a lot of this wonderful food not only sticks to my bones and warms me up on cold rainy night; it moves in permanently, and before I know it, I’ve put on 10 pounds. So I wanted to create a lighter dish that I could develop a new relationship with. To that end, I combined some old friends (tomatoes, cheese, and cauliflower) with some new ones (kale, yogurt, and harissa) and developed this new comfort dish. We’ll have to live together for a while to get some history, but I have to admit I ate much more than my fair share, without the guilt, and felt all warm and happy. It’s a good start.
Rustic Cauliflower and Tomato Gratin
- 1 head cauliflower cut to separate its florets; halve large florets
- 2 cups stemmed and chopped kale
- 1 cup plain yogurt Greek yogurt will be too thick
- 2 tablespoons [url]harissa ∞http://thewimpyvegetarian.com/2012/11/sundaysupper-gifts-from-the-kitchen-harissa/[/url]
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
- 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sriracha sauce
- zest from 1/2 large orange about 1/4 teaspoon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots
- 1/2 cup chopped semi-soft tofu optional
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese divided
- 1 to mato chopped
- 1 to mato thickly sliced
- 1/2 cup [url]browned butter bread crumbs ∞http://thewimpyvegetarian.com/2012/02/browned-butter-breadcrumbs-and-liebster-awards/[/url]
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Steam the cauliflower over simmering water. Set aside.
- Add the kale to the simmering water and cook until soft, about 10 minutes.Remove and drain well, squeezing most of the moisture out of the kale leaves.
- Combine the yogurt, harissa, Worcestershire sauce, curry, sriracha, orange zest, orange juice and vinegar in a large bowl. Whisk to thoroughly combine. Add the shallots, tofu (if using), 1/2 cup cheddar cheese, and the cauliflower and kale. Toss together with a large metal spoon until everything is coated with the yogurt sauce.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, and gently toss again.
- Spoon the mixture into a medium casserole dish. Top with the sliced tomatoes and the breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 30 minutes, or until starting to bubble. Remove the gratin from the oven and sprinkle the rest of the cheddar cheese over the top. Return the gratin to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Serve hot.