Sunday, January 4, 2009

Caldo Verde and Roast Cauliflower

Wandering around on the web trying to find a recipe for the Galician "caldo" soup described by John Barlow in "Everything But the Squeal" (addressed in an earlier post), I came across a couple of recipes for Portuguese "Caldo Verde". According to one account, "considered by many to be Portugal's national dish, caldo verde is found everywhere — in the dining rooms of Lisbon's most luxurious hotels to the humblest of country homes."

The ingredients of Caldo Verde appear slightly different from the Galician caldo described by Barlow, but the two obviously share a similar heritage. I decided to give it a try, together with a baked cauliflower dish that we saw at our dinner at Pizzeria Delfina last week. Both turned out very well for the first try and would definitely be worth trying again, although I do have to say that visually it brought to mind Barlow's description of Galician caldo ("It doesn't look very appetizing. It looks, indeed, like what might run from an overflowing drain after a downpour. Yet it tastes tremendous.")

Caldo Verde - Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup

Baked Cauliflower with Capers

CALDO VERDE

Ingredients:

Olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
One package (4 sausages/ 12 oz.) Aidells Cajun Style Andouille sausage, sliced into 1/4 inch slices*
4 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (just over 1 pound), peeled and diced into 1/2'' cubes
8 cups cold water**
3 bunches (just over 1 pound) cavallo nero (aka “dinosaur”) kale, stems removed and cut into a fine julienne (long, thin strips, about 1/8" wide) ***
Salt and pepper

* The traditional recipe calls for chorizo sausage.

** Obviously if you have a stock pork stock available that would be far better.

***Kale is not particularly bitter. Contrast the bitter "grelos" which Barlow described as the heart of the Galician caldo.

Preparation:

Heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large enameled cast-iron casserole. Add the onion and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion just begins to soften and turn translucent, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and half of the chorizo and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the water, potatoes, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.

Hopefully using an immersion blender (otherwise you will need to remove the soup to a food processor and blend it), process the soup to a coarse puree, and then bring the soup back to a boil. Add the kale and simmer until it is wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining half of the chorizo and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

BAKED CAULIFLOWER WITH CAPERS (A LA PIZZERIA DELFINA)

Ingredients:

1 (2-pound) head cauliflower, green leaves discarded and cut into florets*
Olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon drained capers (packed in brine)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

*One recipe I saw suggested baking the cauliflower head whole. I think it is a better idea (and makes serving easier) to cut it into the florets before baking.

Note: This dish on the Pizzeria Delfina menu is described as "Spicy Cauliflower with capers, garlic, and Calabrian chilies." I did not use either the garlic or chilies the first time, although those would be worth exploring! If one did not want too spicy a dish perhaps one could add julienned sweet Italian frying peppers (like a Jimmy Nardelo variety). In addition, other recipes I saw for similar dishes (apparently one is on the menu at Mario Battali's OTTO in New York) suggested adding thyme and kalamata olives, and flat leaf parsley as a garnish.

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Place cauliflower florets in a large bowl, season with salt and pepper and drizzle on about 1/3 cup of olive oil. Toss to coat.

Put a rack on a baking sheet and spread the florets on the rack. Bake until tender, about 35-40 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through. The tips of the florets may char or blacken a bit but don't be overly concerned about that - in my view it adds to both the flavor and texture.

While cauliflower roasts, in a small bowl combine the lemon juice, lemon zest, capers and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Remove the cauliflower from the oven, put it in a bowl, pour on the lemon mixture, toss and serve.

5 comments:

Andrew said...

How funny! Connie and I made a Caldo Verde the other week, although it was a far simpler (aka less authentic) one that didn't call for any pureeing. Also, we used kielbasa instead of chorizo. I think chorizo would have been better, as the batch came out tasty but without much kick.

Come to think of it, our attempt was probably a total insult to all things Portuguese. Still, getting hungry...

Connie said...

That is some bizarre coincidence ...

Alex said...

Looks delicious! We almost got an order of the cauliflower dish at Delfina's. Wish we had!

Rob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rob said...

Who knew Caldo Verde was so popular?