Saturday, March 10, 2012

Beefy Baked Italian-Style Cauliflower

I want to savor this post because the recipe is truly amazing, but I also want to go hiking. So I'm going to write as fast as I can and get as much word vomit out. That means you should expect grammatical errors and way too many commas. As usual. I never, ever review my work. My English professors hate it. My logic behind it is there are editors for a reason. If my story, arguments, or points are strong, my spelling impeccable, and my prose logical with a touch of whimsy, then who the f cares if I place waaaay too many commas than necessary in my papers. I write like vomit. It just spills and flows out of me and I pause a lot because my brain works slow. Hence the comma. Not that you guys care.

I went to the Blacksburg Farmer's Market today after the morning workout. It's such a glorious day out. That's why I'm writing this fast. Tomorrow's my day off from life but I HAD to give you all this recipe. It's that good. Back to the market though...I love that it's been running for most of the new year. Meat is good year round folks. And some veggies. Like my fav's leafy greens. Mmmm. I bought some fresh spinach from a vendor whose name is completely slipping out of my mind at the moment and some breakfast sausage, jumbo eggs, and raw dog bones for Miss Eleanor from Bruce & Teresa Caldwell over at Cavalier Farms. They breed Aussie's too and they had the most adorable, 8 month old, Blue Merle little girl. I WANT. NOW. She gave me soooo many puppy kisses. I must have tasted really good and salty from the sweat pouring down my face earlier. Who the f puts thrusters in a workout after yesterdays Open madness. Hate you right now CrossFit Blacksburg. But at least it was a partner workout. My partner Amanda was awesome. She saved my butt in the thrusters. We had some great teamwork going on.

I also bought some sodium-free spice mix that Kathleen Anderson over at Nanny's Garden put together. She found the recipe in an American Heart Association cookbook and decided to put some pre-made mixes together for people like me to put on kale chips. It's so peppery and delicious I cannot wait to use it.
AND she gave me a Buy, Eat, Live Local bumper sticker! I know my mom will kill me if I put it on my car so there it sits. Right next to a dead bee. I'm so happy :)

Mark keeps making fun of the slogan. He's all like obviously you live local, where else would you live. Smarta$$. It's the point of living in Blacksburg. Like a deeper meaning of the word live. You get what I'm saying right? Maybe not. Oh well.

By the time I get home it's almost 11 or so and Elle hadn't eaten yet. So I was a nice owner and gave her a bone to hold her over while I took my vitamins. Let's go over a hypothetical situation first before I get into why this act of kindness turned out to be a problem. Would you give me a bowl of almond butter covered in chocolate chips and shredded coconut, let me eat a third of it, and then announce that breakfast was served and it was time to eat drab and boring eggs? The answer is no. Because I wouldn't surrender that bowl for the life of me. That's right. I would die for almond butter and chocolate. Does that constitute as grounds for an addiction? IDGAF. So don't answer that. Elle took one look at her salmon and sweet potato dry dog food and was like who da sh*t do you think you are Emily? Then she waltzed back over to her rib bone where she proceeded to chew on that thing like there was no tomorrow. So I yell at her and say Elle eat your breakfast. She picks up her bone, walks over to her bowl of food, and tries to eat both - AT THE SAME TIME. Idiot. I walk over to her and literally have to pry that thing from her clenched jaws of death. No seriously, German Shepherds have quite the bite. Look it up. Thank goodness she's not food aggressive (or aggressive in general) because I wouldn't have a hand anymore.

Here's the thing about Elle and raw bones: she was essentially raised on them. We would give her raw cow bones all the time and she would spend hours as a puppy gnawing on that tender marrow. She also ate raw food and that probably explains her habit of licking bison hemoglobin off my shoes when I spill it everywhere. I'm not exactly sure why we eventually switched over to dry food, but raw food is supposed to be much better for canine dental health. We won't get into that right now though. Time for the recipe, because I'm getting antsy.

Beefy Baked Italian-Style Cauliflower
Serves 4 (4 ramekins or 4, ~2 cup portions)

  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 cup chopped White Onion
  • 4-5 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 6 ounces ground sirloin
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon course ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar-free marinara (I used Muir Glen Garlic Roasted Garlic because I'm a garlic fiend)
  • 2 ounces pitted Kalamata Olives, coarsely chopped (about 24, I did the math and counted them out based on the serving size, so you may want to double check me because I suck at math)
  • 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • Handful of raw almonds
  • Handful of raw pine nuts
  • Fresh or dried Italian Parsley for garnish
1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add onion and saute for about 4 minutes. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds, stirring constantly as to not burn the garlic. 
2. Crumble in the ground beef, sprinkle with salt and the peppers and saute about 3-5 minuts or until browned, stirring to crumble. 
3. Stir in marinara sauce and olives. Lower to a simmer while you prepare the cauliflower. 
4. Preheat broiler (I used the high setting). 
5. Steam cauliflower 4 minutes or until crisp-tender, not too mushy.
6. While the cauliflower is steaming, take a handful of raw almonds and a handful of raw pine nuts and place in a food processor. Chop them up so they form a breadcrumb like consistency. Don't worry about making too much, you can eat the mixture plain like me or have extra "breadcrumbs" for the dish. 
7. When the cauliflower is done steaming, distribute them evenly between 4 ramekins OR an 11x7 inch broiler-safe baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with the sauce mixture and if you're using the ramekins, jiggle the cups around so that the sauce sinks in between the crevices of the cauliflower. 

8. Sprinkle the almond and pine nut "breadcrumbs" evenly over the ramekins or the baking dish. 
9. Broil 2-3 minutes or browned. Be careful not to burn them like I did! Just keep an eye on them! Top with fresh or dried parsley and demolish. 

These are not to be messed with. Honestly, the serving size should be 2 because 6 ounces of sirloin really isn't enough for 4 Emily sized people. I ate two last night as I said yesterday and I'll probably have 2 more for lunch. Who knows. These are incredibly amazing and even for you olive haters, the sauce masks them perfectly and Kalamata olives really have a nice subtle olive flavor rather than a more tart flavor. Time to hike! Enjoy :)

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