Steamed Cauliflower with Bottarga Sauce

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This dish is very South of France, which is how Mark and I felt walking around the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market one January afternoon, wondering what to cook. We could hear the crash of the waves along the huge, white, sandy beach, and we thought of Hyeres near Toulon and of lunches with Richard Olney at his house nearby when the air was just as balmy.

We used a steamer, but if you cover the cauliflower, a couscous maker or even just a colander over a pot of simmering water will do.

Ingredients

  • 1 very fresh whole young cauliflower
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 4 salted anchovies, rinsed and filleted, chopped
  • ¼ cup capers, rinsed, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 ounces tuna roe, or bottarga, chopped
  • 1 Meyer lemon, zested and juiced
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

Put the cauliflower in a steamer, cover, and cook over simmering water until tender at the core, 15 to 20 minutes.

When the cauliflower is nearly cooked, heat half the olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat and add the garlic. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the garlic softens. Do not let it brown. Then add the anchovies, capers, parsley, and tuna roe. Add 2 tablespoons of the cauliflower steaming water and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the juice of the lemon, the remaining olive oil, and a good deal of pepper.

Take the cauliflower out of the steamer and slice it crosswise into 2-inch-thick pieces. Put the slices on a platter with the core ends facing the center. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle with the lemon zest, sea salt, and more pepper.

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