1 head cauliflower
2 tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
Cut the cauliflower into pieces and place them in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process using quick on and off turns until the cauliflower looks like tiny little nuggets. Watch carefully, as it doesn’t take long to turn nuggets into puree. If you don’t have a food processor, you can either grate the cauliflower on the large holes of a box grater or chop it using a very sharp chef’s knife.
VARIATIONS: Here is where the fun begins.
You can line a steamer basket with cheesecloth and set it in a large stock-pot with just enough water to come up to the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place the cauliflower nuggets in the steamer basket and season with salt to taste. Cover and steam just until the cauliflower is barely cooked, about 4 minutes. again, don’t turn it into mush. This gives you a plain couscous-like base for sauces or stews.
Or, you can heat about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a large frying pan. Add 1 finely diced onion and 1 teaspoon minced garlic and cook, stirring, just until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the raw cauliflower nuggets, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook, stirring, until the cauliflower begins to color, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon minced fresh herbs of choice, chopped scallions, chopped olives or sun-dried tomatoes, orange zest, or pomegranate seeds and serve as a side dish.
Or, when sautéing the onion and garlic, you can add chopped nuts or pine nuts, diced celery, a couple of handfuls of chopped bitter greens, or anything you like that might work with the protein or stew you are serving it with.
NOTE: Many people discard the core of the cauliflower and use only the florets to make “couscous.” I have found that there is absolutely no sound reason for doing this—the core tastes only a bit stronger than the florets and adds at least one more serving to the mix.