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Cooking School, Cooking class in tuscany

Cavolfiore, Tuscan Style

Cauliflower, the often-overlooked cousin to cabbage, kale and broccoli, is a versatile vegetable which is delicious steamed, boiled, baked or fried. High in fiber and in vitamins C and K, this cruciferous vegetable is a blank canvas that pairs well with meats and fish as well as cheeses and greens. Although we most commonly use the florets, the stem and leaves are edible and perfect for stocks and soups.


Look for a head with clean, bright curd, without spots or small flowers. The more leaves surrounding it, the better, as this will ensure the vegetable is fresher and better protected. There are several different colors and varieties of cauliflower available commercially, including the common white, orange, green, purple and the visually striking lime-green Romanesco.


Whole, uncooked cauliflower will keep in the refrigerator for about a week. Be sure to store it stem-side down to prevent moisture from pooling in the floret clusters. Cauliflower that’s been pre-cut will keep for up to two days, and cooked cauliflower will keep up to three days.

Cavolfiore pastellato alla siciliana (Sicilian-style Fried Cauliflower)

A great cold-weather recipe from Sicily.


  • 1 head cauliflower, stem and leaves removed, cut into florets
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese Salt Freshly ground black pepper
  • Unbleached all purpose flour, enough to create a dense batter Vegetable oil, for frying

1. In a large pot of salted boiling water, cook florets for 3 minutes. Drain, then shock in cold water. Using a slotted spoon, transfer florets to a baking sheet lined with paper towels, to drain.

2. Prepare batter. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with parsley, garlic, Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper. Add enough flour to create a dense batter.

3. Add cooked cauliflower; stir to cover every floret fully in batter.

4. In a large skillet with deep sides, heat oil on medium heat. Spoon the battered florets into the hot oil and fry until golden and crispy. Season with salt and serve hot.

Cauliflower quiche


For pastry dough

  • 6 ounces unbleached all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Sea salt
  • 2 3/4 ounces unsalted butter,plus extra for greasing pie plate
  • 10 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 3 cups boiled cauliflower, finely chopped
  • 9 ounces bacon, finely diced and fried until crisp
  • 5 eggs, beaten
  • 3 ounces whole milk
  • 7 ounces heavy cream
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

1. make pastry dough. In a large bowl, sift flour and salt together. Rub in the butter until a soft breadcrumb texture forms. Add enough cold water to make crumb mixture come together to form a firm dough. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough. Butter an 8-inch inch baking dish and lay dough into pan, letting the edges overlap pan. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

3. Preheat oven to 375°F.

4. Remove the baking dish from refrigerator. Line dough with parchment paper; fill with pie weights. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pie weights and parchment.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

6. Sprinkle cheese into pastry base and add cooked cauliflower. Sprinkle bacon on top.

7. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk and cream; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the bacon and cheese. Sprinkle thyme on top. Trim edges of dough, or fold over and crimp.

8.Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until set. Remove from oven; serve warm.

Paccheri al cavolfiore (Paccheri with Cauliflower)

Paccheri is a large tubular pasta. If you can’t find it, use large rigatoni.


  • 1 medium white onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds cauliflower florets
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 leaves mint, minced
  • 1 pound paccheri
  • Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1. In a large skillet on medium heat, place oil, garlic and onions and cook until onions are translucent and soft, about 10 minutes. Stir very frequently.

2. Add florets and cook until they start falling apart, about 10 to 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add mint and cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add salt and pasta and cook it until al dente.

4. Strain pasta and transfer to the skillet with sauce. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes to blend all flavors.

5. Serve with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and freshly ground black pepper.

Cavolfiore gratinato (Cauliflower gratin)


One of our favorite recipes during the winter.

To make bechamel (a creamy white sauce), melt 1/2 cup butter in a saucepan; add 1/2 cup flour and cook until a paste (known as roux) is formed. Whisk in 2 1/2 cups milk, and salt and pepper to taste; stir constantly over medium heat just until mixture starts to boil.

  • 2 lbs cauliflower, leaves and stem discarded, cut into florets
  • Salt Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cups bechamel
  • 1 tablespoons minced flatleaf parsley
  • 1 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 cups coarsely grated Emmenthal cheese
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook cauliflower 5 minutes. Drain and transfer to a bowl.

2. Add salt, pepper, bechamel, parsley and Parmigiano Reggiano.

3. Heat oven to 375°F.

4. Butter a baking dish; dust with bread- crumbs. Transfer cauliflower mixture to baking dish. Top   with Emmenthal and remaining breadcrumbs.

5. Bake for 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve hot.

Vellutata di cavolfiore (Creamy Cauliflower Soup)


  • 2 leeks, white part only, washed and thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds cauliflower florets
  • 2 potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups beef or vegetable broth
  • 4 sprigs dill, for garnish Croutons, for garnish

1. In a large heavy pot on medium heat, place oil and leeks. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring very frequently. Add cauliflower and potatoes, stir to blend and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

2. Add wine, let it evaporate, then add broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. With an immersion blender (or in a blender), puree the soup.

3. Serve hot with croutons, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprig of dill and freshly grated black pepper.