Posted by: Kath Usitalo | January 10, 2011

Recipe File: Cauliflower Rye Casserole

Cauliflower and cabbage, Detroit's Eastern Market

Do you favor fruits or veggies?

With government nutritionists recommending consumption of five-to-nine servings of produce each day, ideally we’d eat a balance of the two. But I’d just as soon skip the fruit and get my fill of veggies.

Cauliflower is a favorite. Last week we had it simply roasted: Just clean and cut the head of cauliflower into florets, toss with a little olive oil, sprinkle with Kosher salt, place in a a glass dish in a 400 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, and enjoy.

With Christmas dinner we enjoyed the Cauliflower Rye Casserole made by my sister-in-law Mary Lou. I was craving it this chilly winter weekend and remembered the recipe from my well-worn cookbook, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, which features ethnic vegetarian dishes including Kukkakaalialaatikko, a Finnish comfort food. TIP: For the true Finnish comfort experience, wash it down with beer.

Finnish foods are little appreciated outside of that country and Finnish-American communities, although Conan O’Brien recently did his part to raise awareness of traditional delicacies.

On December 15 he vowed to boycott Finnish foods until his fans are successful in getting his program on the air in Finland.

I’m surprised he didn’t mention kukkakaalialaatikko; who else but the Finns would find comfort in cauliflower? Check out Conan’s message of support to Finland and see culinary sacrifices he’s made for the love of Finland.

Cauliflower Rye Casserole

adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant

1 C beer
3 C rye bread cubes (about 4 slices)
3 C grated extra sharp cheddar cheese
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 T butter
1 tsp caraway seeds
4 eggs
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp ground coriander seeds
freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pour the cup of beer into a shallow bowl and let it sit out until flat. Polish off the beer (optional).

Butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

Toast bread cubes on a baking sheet in a 300-degree oven until crisp, not browned—15-20 minutes. Use a good rye bread, with caraway if you like.

Remove bread cubes and increase oven to 350-degrees.

Saute cauliflower in butter with caraway seeds. When florets are just tender combine bread cubes, cauliflower, and grated cheese. Spread into casserole dish.

Mix eggs, mustard, coriander and pepper with the flat beer and pour over the mixture.

Bake at 350-degrees for 30 – 45 minutes, until puffed and golden.

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