A lovely lacto-vegetarian dish that my mostly carnivorous daughter, Alex, declared as delicious. I cooked enough garlicky mushrooms and cauliflower with balsamic vinaigrette as a side dish for her and as a main dish for my vegetarian daughter, Sam.
I had no concrete ideas about what to cook for Sam last night. She sometimes fixes her dinner and, being a weekend, I thought she would want to do so. But Alex had digestion issues and wanted to eat vegetables with Korean beef stew. She asked what veggies we had, I enumerated what were in the fridge and when I mentioned cauliflower and mushrooms, her eyes lit up. Could I cook a vegetable dish, she asked. Okay, I replied. And I would make enough for her and her sister.
The thing about vegetarian cooking is that you have to keep a stock of fresh vegetables all the time. Otherwise, you’ll be limited with canned vegetables and… well, what nutrients will you get from that? The mere thought of heating up canned peas or beans, for instance, makes me sad. Even dousing them with butter still makes me sad. But give me fresh vegetables to work with and I feel inspired.
But keeping fresh vegetables in stock requires going to the market almost everyday. It’s humid in this country and even refrigerating vegetables only lengthens their life by a day or two. It’s a good thing that I have a husband who is well acquainted with the local market and all groceries in the neighborhood. If I have to do the marketing and cooking, and then take photos of our meals and write the recipes, I’d be utterly exhausted.
We’ve gotten used to the system that we make our lists of “to buy” food, he does the marketing and the girls and I do the cooking. Well, unless there is something in the list that he isn’t comfortable buying by himself. Like fish. Over a decade since he first bought fish on his own, he still doesn’t like doing it.
Almost everything that went into this vegetarian garlicky mushrooms and cauliflower with balsamic vinaigrette, Speedy bought. He’s so well acquainted with what is good in the market and what is better bought in the grocery, and vice versa. He knows where mushrooms are fresher, and preferably cheaper, on what days and at what time of the day. He knows that fruits and vegetables are freshest in the morning at the market but, in the afternoon, they are better bought at the air-conditioned groceries where they are kept at cooler temperatures.
With a system like that, we’re able to produce good meals everyday without anyone feeling like dropping from exhaustion. Speedy even cooks and bakes occasionally, and he does both well. I understand that it’s not a system that will work for all families especially in a culture where men still insist that anything related to cooking is the sole domain of women, and that their role is limited to being served good food. Utterly medieval, I know, but there are still too many men in this country who have that mindset.
But, anyway, I don’t expect men with medieval mentality to be among the readers of this blog. This recipe is not for them. If you’re a woman with a husband who thinks he is entitled, by sole virtue of his gender, to be pampered like a medieval king, go and open a can of sardines for him, and have this dish for yourself.
Garlicky Mushrooms and Cauliflower With Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (not extra virgin)
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 6 to 8 button mushrooms halved
- 2 cups cauliflower florets
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- toasted chopped pistachio (or you preferred nut), to garnish
- chopped parsley to garnish
Heat the butter and olive oil in a pan.
Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds.
Add the mushroom halves to the sauteed garlic. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, for about a minute.
Throw in the cauliflower florets. Sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for a minute.
Pour in a tablespoon or so of water. Not a lot. Just enough to create steam. Cover the pan and let the cauliflower and mushrooms cook in the steam.
Scoop out the mushrooms and cauliflower and transfer to a shallow bowl or bowls.
Stir together the balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Drizzle over the mushrooms and cauliflower.
Garnish the garlicky mushrooms and cauliflower with balsamic vinaigrette with toasted nuts and chopped parsley before serving.