An Ode to Breadcrumbs
Bored with broccoli? Tired of tilapia? Sick of scrambled eggs? Add breadcrumbs! A spoonful of buttery, toasty crumbs can make the most ordinary dish sublime.
Like the portabella mushroom, endive gratin, baked eggs, and fried chickpeas, above. What began as potentially bland fare – vegetables, an egg, canned beans – became something special with the addition of…yes, breadcrumbs.
Ditto this head of cauliflower.
We eat a lot of cauliflower. We get tired of cauliflower. But roast it to caramelize the edges, and top it with caper-and-almond-studded breadcrumbs, and all of a sudden this simple vegetable is wearing a bikini. Of bread! Hot.
Any bread will do – gluten-free, sprouted grain, challah. Grind in a food processor, toast in a skillet with butter and/or olive oil, add a little salt. Sprinkle over sauteed beans, or an omelet, or pasta, or grilled vegetables, or baked fish. So not boring.
Roasted Cauliflower with Toasted Breadcrumbs, Capers, & Almonds
1 c. fresh bread crumbs (about 2 sandwich-size slices of bread; I use Ezekiel bread, ground in a food processor to uniform crumbs)
1 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1/4 c. almonds, ground in a food processor (or chopped finely)
1 small clove garlic, minced
1/4 c. capers, dried and chopped
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil. Stir in the breadcrumbs, almonds, and garlic and saute, stirring frequently, until breadcrumbs are toasted and golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in capers and a sprinkle of salt. Set aside.
Put cauliflower in a large bowl. Drizzle with remaining 3 Tbsp. of olive oil, add a generous sprinkle of kosher salt, and stir with a rubber spatula to incorporate oil and salt evenly over florets.
Spread florets on a baking sheet, making sure they’re not touching much or at all stacked on top of each other – the florets need room to roast and become crisp, otherwise they’ll just steam. Put cauliflower in the oven and roast for 12 minutes. Check florets to make sure they’re lightly browned on one side – if they are, remove the pan from the oven and turn each floret over with tongs. Return pan to oven and roast for another 10-15 minutes, until florets are nicely browned and very tender.
Remove from oven, transfer cauliflower to a serving platter, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. (Store any remaining breadcrumbs in an air-tight container.) Add salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.