Cauliflower, Swiss Chard and Leeks. What do they tell us.They say "It's November."The trees are already almost bare. Instead of leaves flocks of crows line the branches cawing cries of defiance at a red tail hawk that is perched at the top.The hawk gets the hint.This is not where he will make his kill. The stalls at the Farmer's Market offer pumpkins, gourds, and a few remaining eggplants. Apples are plentiful. But there are two things that take my eye: Swiss chard and beautiful, enormous heads of cauliflower. Dish after dish runs through my head.Cauliflower is so rich and hearty a vegetable it offers real substance to your table.I don't see why folks don't make more use of it. And Swiss chard is such a versatile accompaniment to almost anything.So, I thought, why not try something that combines them. Here are two ways that are full and hearty.These two recipes can anchor any fall dinner.The first recipe is a rich, dense soup that can stand on its own and can make a satisfying lunch.You really don't even need a sandwich to go with it.For dinner, a smaller portion of this soup is an appetizing first course.
It's also a great warm up on a rainy Fall afternoon.I would even go so far as
to say that the combination of the cauliflower with the leeks in this soup has
something of that elusive "umami” taste to it.
The second use of the cauliflower and leeks is as a baked casserole. Here again the texture of the cauliflower provides a feeling of satisfaction. You feel like you're eating something more than a vegetable. And, here's
another strong point for this recipe. It has several applications. On its own, this recipe is an excellent side dish or accompaniment for as any kind of roast: beef or chicken.It can also make a very satisfying lighter lunch.
But here is my favorite use: serve it over pasta. Penne, fettuccini or rigatoni are best.
What you need.
The Two Dishes
Half the cauliflower is already in a soup pot.
To the pot add at least two cups of chicken stock.
Bring to a boil.
Lower the heat to a simmer and add the leek and Swiss
Let this simmer for about 30
Use an immersion blender (or an upright blender) to cream the soup.
(Optional) Add about a half cup of cream or milk.
Check for salt and pepper.
Preheat oven to 350.
Lay the large sections of the cauliflower in a casserole
Add the leek/Swiss chard
Turn the two about.
Add the egg/cream blend.
(The liquid should come at least half way up. If not, add more milk or cream.)
Grate the cheese on top.
Cover lightly with bread crumbs.
Add pats of butter.
Grate on some nutmeg.
Cover the casserole with aluminum foil.
Bake covered with the aluminum foil for about 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and take off the aluminum foil.
Return to the oven under the broiler for about five minutes until
the breadcrumbs brown.