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Cauliflower Frittata

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Delicious egg and cauliflower Mediterranean dish I cooked with my local vegetables, with an explosive finale!

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Frittata is an Italian word for beaten eggs mixed with various ingredients, mostly vegetable and cheese, and baked until it sets. But you find the same sort of dish all around the Mediterranean, for instance the Spanish potato-egg tortilla. Tonight we'll do a frittata of Tunisian inspiration with a cauliflower at my local farmers' market.

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Remove the leaves and the trunk from the cauliflower.

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Place the cauliflower head in a pot, here a black La Chamba clay pot, one of the many legal exports of Colombia. Cover with water, add a bit of salt and boil until soft. You need to be able to mash the cauliflower with a fork, so don't cook it granola-style.

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Cauliflower leaves are usually not considered edible and you can discard them for now. One day I'll show how you can use them, but tonight we have other things to do.

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Reserve the cooked cauliflower.

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How to boil an egg? I brought a pot of water to a boil and delicately placed my free range eggs in the water, then waited 5 minutes. For a hard-boiled egg, that's 5 minutes, right? Well, after my eggs had cooled down a bit I started shelling them and they felt a bit soft. I made a hole with sharp knife in one egg and, sure enough, the yolk came out. Gosh. It was already 9PM, no time to reheat more water. That's exactly when I had the briliant idea of placing the not-quite-hard-boiled eggs in the microwave.

That ought to work, right? First I put them for 60 seconds, then checked. The egg yolk from the bleeding eggs started to ooze out slowly, but otherwise no problem. Another 60 seconds, fine but still soft. I put then for 180 seconds and closed the microwave.

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BANG! As I lay on the floor wondering if I just had been attacked by the Scottish Anti-Defamation League or the Tandoor Liberation Front, I saw this. An egg bravely sacrificed itself to blow the microwave door open and save his brothers. Faced with such selfless bravery, I decided to grant each surviving egg their life. The least I could do, really.

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Should you not be as magnanimous as I was, shell your hard-boiled, unexploded eggs, and cut them in quarters.

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Cut the cauliflower into florets and place them together with the hard-boiled eggs into an ovenproof dish.

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We will now prepare the body of the frittata that will bind eggs and cauliflower forever.

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Beat the 4 remaining eggs together.

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Garlic. The original recipe from Clifford Wright's Mediterranean Vegetables, a most enjoyable book, called for harissa, the Maghreb hot pepper-garlic-cumin-oil paste. I didn't have proper harissa and replaced it with garlic. Frankly, if there exists a dish that cannot be improved with garlic and parmesan, I have never seen it.

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Skin the garlic cloves, slice them through and remove the green sprout inside.

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Crush the garlic and add to the eggs.

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Finely dice an onion ...

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... and add it to the egg mixture with a drop of olive oil.

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Good Parmesan is called Parmigiano Reggiano, made according to exacting specifications.

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Grate coarsely...

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... then add to the eggs.

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Showtime. Spread the egg mixture evenly over the cauliflower, then mash with a fork to ensure that you have an homogeneous, flat layer in the dish.

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Bake for 30 minutes in a medium-hot oven or as long as it takes for the eggs to coagulate.

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Serve with toasted bread as a relatively light evening meal (as light as it goes in my kitchen at any rate).

And so to bed.

Published 26/06/2008
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39 Comments

Again a fantastic recipe with great pictures. (especially the exploded egg:) tell me this is a joke you knew this! Anyway I will cook this cauliflower recipe. I like quick and simple recipes for every day. Thank you.
Who knew an egg could be such a courageous entity?
  • #3
  • Comment by susie
  • on: 26/06/2008
This is an example of why all of us are addicted to your website...each episode of your delightful culinary adventures are so riveting and at times, so funny.  That picture of your splattered microwave was priceless.  It also brings back memories of a exploded cake I once baked...  
What would you say to a Brocolli version?
  • #5
  • Comment by Christine
  • on: 26/06/2008
If one happened to have proper harrissa on hand, how much to add and how and when?
  • #6
  • Comment by Paul Mckenna
  • on: 26/06/2008
A hardboiled egg in five minutes.
"Cooking" eggs in the microwave.
Francois, what  have you been smoking ?
And can I have some too please.

Good recipe, earthy, simple.

Paul
  • #7
  • Comment by Nate
  • on: 26/06/2008
Sorry you got hit by the suicide bomber egg terrorist.

We have a post on our site titled "how to make perfect hard boiled eggs".  Come check it out if you have time.
  • #8
  • Comment by Ouroboros
  • on: 26/06/2008
Excellent creation.

But...eggs in the nuker (microwave)?  C'mon FX, you know better! ;)

Strange anecdote, but true...I can whip up unique creations using various ingredients, and have been doing so since my mid-20's (I'm 31 now, mind you).  I've impressed my parents and friends on many occasions.  My mom was shocked earlier this year when I called and asked her, "Mom, how do I hard-boil an egg?"  The silence at the other end of the phone was priceless, and not a little bit embarassing on my part.  "What, you can whip up a (x recipe) out of nowhere, but you have trouble boiling an egg?", she says.  "Yep", says me.

Mom's hard-boiled egg solution:  Take the egg(s) out of the cooler, rest them in the saucepot and water that they will be boiled in until the eggs come up to room temperature (this is very important, I guess).  Turn the stovetop on high until the water/eggs reach a violent boil, then turn the stovetop off and remove the saucepot from the heat.  Let the eggs sit in the formerly boiling water for 20 minutes, then douse them in cold water under the faucet.

Gonna have to have my cholesterol checked after all of the deviled eggs and the variations thereof that I've tried after finally learning from my mom how to hard-boil an egg!

Moral of the story:  There is always a simple ingredient that we neglect, thinking that we are beyond it...when in fact, the most simple of ingredients may be the crux of our high-minded ideas for recipes.

O
  • #9
  • Comment by Luci
  • on: 27/06/2008
Oh, c'mon, we've all done that to the microwave.  Lovely recipe, looks great - I *love* cauliflower raw or cooked - yum!
  • #10
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Titania, thanks for visiting, indeed this is no joke and the damn egg really blasted by microwave door open. Incredibly self-assured.

If you like lichens, you can cook all sorts of things from Cetraria islandicus, I tried some recipes years ago. Have fun!
  • #11
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Susie, thanks for your appreciation, I really didn't make this up and the explosion surprised me. Rather foolish when you come to think of it, but hey, that happens in any kitchen!
  • #12
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Ahmet, yes absolutely you could do this with broccoli for a different dish much less yellow, but why not. Perhaps replace the Parmesan with some pecorino?
  • #13
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Christine, the harrissa is to be mixed with the raw eggs instead of the garlic, that's it.
  • #14
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Paul, for a spectacular & memorable recipe I recommend cooking eggs in the microwave!
  • #15
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Nate, thanks for visiting, damn eggs really had its day in my kitchen! Next time I'll make a 300-minute-egg instead.
  • #16
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 28/06/2008
Ouroboros, I guess we always come back to where we started, like the mighty Dragon Ouroboros eating its tail for all eternity! Egg cooking is about reaching the coagulation temperature inside the egg, you could cook it for a whole day at that precise temperature less one degree and it wouldn't be cooked through!
  • #17
  • Comment by Alys
  • on: 28/06/2008
"Frankly, if there exists a dish that cannot be improved with garlic ..."

Then you must go to the Gilroy Garlic Festival in Gilroy California - all garlic, all the time!
Ranging from raw to everything you already know about to ice cream to wine.
:-)
  • #18
  • Comment by Cecilia
  • on: 29/06/2008
Egg-cellent post! you are TOO funny ... I never thought you have such a great sense of humor :0)
  • #19
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/06/2008
Alys I hope I get to visit this, otherwise there is always good old Garlic and Shots in Soho London. "Yea who enter here, abandon all hope..."
  • #20
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 29/06/2008
Cecilia thanks for your praise, I am indeed quite serious about joking!
  • #21
  • Comment by Utkun Birsen
  • on: 29/06/2008
Hi Francois,
My mother saw this recipe and wondered if you like her's so here is what she does.
It's called Cauliflower Salad.
Seperate and boil the cauliflower then filter the water. Put the vegetable in a bowl. Mix olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar, 2 full spoon of mayonnaise, 1 full spoon of ketchup, 1 full spoon of mustard, 2-3 pieces of garlic, parsley, dill, salt in a blender until they mix well. And pour the mixture on to the boiled cauliflower.
Enjoy  
  • #22
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 30/06/2008
Utkun thanks for visiting and for this family recipe!
  • #23
  • Comment by picsel
  • on: 30/06/2008
if an egg is hard-boiled, then it can be easily spinned on a flat surface. if it is still soft, it will stop spinning as soon as it started :P simple physics :D
i learned this playing around with food when i was a kid.
Yesterday night I was cooking dinner, and I was wondering whether this recipe would not be even tastier with the cauliflower cut in quite small pieces and stir-fried with the usual garlic and hot peppers. Or maybe it is just that I find the thought of cauliflower boiled until it becomes soft quite depressing.
  • #25
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 06/07/2008
Picsel, this egg certainly didn't stop spinning!
  • #26
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 06/07/2008
Walter, this one had some much garlic and parmesan in it that you could boil the cauliflower for a year and still not be depressed!
  • #27
  • Comment by CKfusionist
  • on: 07/07/2008
Dang, didn't that happen to a little boy who microwaved an egg   then it exploded and pieces of the egg shell got stuck in his eyes. Dangerous thing to do, safer if we all just stick to boiling our hard-boiled egg.
  • #28
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 07/07/2008
CKfusionist, I now have final proof the exploding egg had contacts with members of the Scottish Anti Defamation League - a secret organization with far reaching powers.
  • #29
  • Comment by peter remmer
  • on: 08/07/2008
Absolutely gorgeous recipes, the pictures really help.
Tip for boiling eggs, Put the eggs in COLD water and bring to a boil, it takes a few times to judge when boiling starts, as soon as they boil take off the heat and let stand for 2 mins. this gives me perfect, for me, soft boiled eggs
Adjust accordingly for hard boiled.
Peter
  • #30
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 08/07/2008
Peter, aye, for the soft-core eggs I manage OK, but hard-boiled eggs really need 10 minutes I guess.
  • #31
  • Comment by Jay
  • on: 08/07/2008
I made something similar over the weekend, except I roasted the cauliflower instead of boiling (25 minutes in a 425 F oven with salt and olive oil), omitted the hard cooked eggs, added more shallot and used pecorino romano instead of Parmigiano Reggiano. It was wonderful!
  • #32
  • Answered by fx
  • on: 09/07/2008
Jay, thanks for trying this, definitely a recipe that can be tweaked to one's personal taste. Glad it worked for you!
  • #33
  • Comment by Geoff Ball
  • on: 11/12/2008
Well I remember when I was 18 and was going to make some pickled eggs. I boiled eggs for 5 minutes at a rolling boil to my mom's amusement and I learned the hard way, how to boil an egg.

Eggs in with cold water and seven minutes (start counting once the water is at a rolling boil)

This works on an electric stovetop. I do miss my gas range that I had in Italy. Since gas is quicker/better then electric you might have to add a few minutes.

Now I'm craving pickled eggs at 4am, great.
Take care FX.
  • FX's answer→ Geoff, I changed from electric to gas but sometimes wonder about the advantage. Modern electric stoves are quite efficient and much easier to clean.

  • #35
  • Comment by Leela
  • on: 24/01/2009
Ah, the exploding microwaved egg!  I, too, have had this unfortunate experience - not once but twice.  (I guess sometimes repetition is the only way to really learn something...)

First time was in a hotel - I wanted a warm hardboiled egg, so I put the ice cold egg from the breakfast bar in the microwave for a minute.  The explosion that followed was public and embarrasing, but at least I didn't have to clean it up!

The second time around, I had vague, half-remembered thoughts about possible egg/microwave incompatibilities (but I remembered being given a microwave omelette device so I forged ahead).  I removed the shell thinking that steam might build up inside, and stood with my finger to the button ready to terminate the experiment at the slightest hint of danger.

Well, I got egg on my face, quite literally.  Our microwave is at the level of my head; and I don't know how I managed to avoid being struck by the door when it exploded outwards, or by the two heavy metal vases propelled off the top of said device.  

The scene was quite similar to your picture - the egg was violently transformed into a sticky powder that clung to the entire inside of the microwave as well as spreading in a radius of about one foot from the door.  I got to clean that one up!

And, sadly, that was the demise of the microwave.  Some integral part must have been jarred out of its proper position and I thought better of tinkering with it!

So, what I learned:  Whole hardboiled eggs, with or without shell, are definitely not microwaveable.  Perhaps if they were cut up into small pieces, but I won't be trying it.  I wouldn't chance a soft-boiled egg, either.  I believe raw eggs (like omelette) can be cooked in a microwave but don't take my word for it - look it up!

P.S. - I really enjoy your articles - beautiful pictures, and beautiful foods!
  • FX's answer→ We might send our findings to Brainiac, a show that loves to portray Microwave abuse!

  • #37
  • Comment by Lorraine
  • on: 23/01/2010
Hello~
I stumbled upon your site this evening when searching for a buckwheat pancake recipe.  That was 5 hours ago!  It's such a lovely site, & I am looking forward to making the linguine with clam sauce tomorrow!  And then the broccoli & pine nut pasta... and then this cauliflower frittata!  Anyways, I noticed that you took the green shoots out of your garlic, & for some reason I've recently picked up the same habit of doing that as well.  I don't know why I've recently started taking out the shoots as I don't think I've seen it elsewhere (although perhaps I've read it in a cookbook...maybe?) but was wondering if you knew what the reason was for the shoot removal?    Thank you for this fantastic site.  It reminds me of Saveur magazine, but each entry is like one whole magazine!  
  • FX's answer→ Thanks Lorraine and have fun with the cooking! You remove the shoots from within garlic cloves because they give a bitter taste.

  • #39
  • Comment by Thomas
  • on: 25/05/2010
That was a fantastic treat, thank you for the fundamentals for a marvelous recipe. I seasoned the hell out of the  mixed eggs and used colby jack cheese, added a little kentucky deluxe (whiskey) and put bacon on top. Cooked at 400. It turned out great. Thanks again.

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