Wednesday, March 4, 2009

In Progress: Broccoli and Cauliflower in Tomato Sauce [FAIL]

Though this is a variant on a pasta sauce (original recipe here), I'm probably going to have it over rice tomorrow. And yes, the "in progress" tag - while it's literally accurate as of 9:55 pm - also denotes a recipe that "needs work."
  • 1-2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 4-5 cloves garlic (about 1 heaping tbsp.), coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 4 anchovy fillets, minced
  • 2 small onions (about 3/4 cup), coarsely chopped
  • 1 28 oz. can tomatoes (San Marzano, this time), crushed - reserve liquid
  • salt to taste
  • 12 oz. mixed broccoli and cauliflower pieces, chopped (mine came in a plastic bag)
Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and red pepper flakes; saute for about a minute, then add anchovy fillets. Cook, stirring, till anchovies begin to turn into mush.

Add onion and cook till it begins to soften and become translucent, 3-5 minutes.

Add tomatoes -- I crush them by hand because it's a gloopy, messy, satisfying feeling. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10-15 minutes, till they're starting to look saucy. Add salt to taste then correct seasoning, if necessary.

Ok, now that my cunning plan's starting not to seem terribly cunning, it's time to go to the liveblog for troubleshooting!

9: 45 pm: Add vegetables. There seemed to be way too much of them, so I added the tomato liquid from the can (about a cupful), brought everything to a boil, then simmered.

9:48 pm: Of course now there seems to be a tad too much liquid, so I'm keeping the lid off.

9:50 pm. Bubble, bubble, toil and hazard, broccoli limp and cauli rock-hard. I suspect failure - or at least non-optimal food - is imminent. On the upside: sauce tastes pretty good, with quite a kick from the red pepper flakes.

9:54 pm. Well, the cauliflower's at acceptable al dente texture, but still hasn't melded into the rest of the flavors. I suspect the broccoli's even limper. Ah well, another couple of minutes won't hurt.

9:55 pm. Discussing the specifics of this particular fail over Gchat. This is what I get for turning my back on The Bittman, who advocated parboiling and blanching, then adding the cauliflower to the sauce.

9:57 pm. Can't bear to see the broccoli start turning brown around the edges and soggy, so I turned off the heat. Quite a bit of liquid too - forgot that stuff tends to exude from veggies when they're heated. I probably could have gotten away with minimal amounts of tomato liquid, if any. At least this will sit in the fridge till tomorrow, so the flavors will have a chance to meld.

10:16 pm. After a couple of mouthfuls, this doesn't seem to be a total failure. The cauliflower texture is fine, the broccoli is a tad soggy but still respectably solid in the mouth. Sauce is way too thin, but well-seasoned. Perhaps history will look more kindly upon this dish once it's for lunch tomorrow.

NOTE (Mar. 11): Actually, this isn't really a fail, but I like the tag too much and will keep it around for actual fails. Reheated the last bit of this with some sliced sausage and had it over rice. Good bowl food!

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