Sauteed Cauliflower with Pancetta

Growing up there were always 3 side dishes on the table for ‘holiday’ dinners. One was mashed potatoes; the other two were something green and then something not green. Two green side veggies was just not done. Salad didn’t count by the way. Don’t ask me why, it just didn’t.

As an adult I try not to have two green veggies as side dishes. Witness the traumas inflicted upon our childhood psyche without effort or intent. šŸ™‚ Carrots get boring, yellow summer squash is for summer time and pureed butternut squash leaves me wanting something more. Today I turned to cauliflower; which I would normally roast. We were roasting asparagus though and I didn’t want all matchy-matchy side dishes. I never claimed my psyche was undamaged.

Sauteed Cauliflower with Pancetta
Servings: 8-10
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, core and leaves removed, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 6 oz. pancetta, 1/8″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Directions:

  1. Place in a steamer basket set in a pot and fill with water to just below the basket. Bring water to a boil. Spread cauliflower around basket, sprinkle with salt and steam for 5 minutes. Cauliflower will still have a bit of give to it.
  2. While the cauliflower steams heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with the diced pancetta in it. Cook for ~5 minutes until fat is rendered from the pancetta; the pancetta should be crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.
  3. Add olive oil to the skillet to increase total fat to about 3 tablespoons. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Heat over low heat until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
  4. Add steamed cauliflower to the skillet. Toss to coat with oil. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or two.
  5. Check cauliflower for doneness. When done to your liking add the crisped pancetta, toss to combine and taste; add salt & pepper as desired.
  6. Transfer to a warmed bowl and serve.

Notes:
I used an orange hued cauliflower. Purple, green or even the original off-white would work just as well. Of course if you use green then you might end up with 2 green veggie side dishes. The horrors.

Bacon can be substituted for pancetta; just cut it into thin strips. You’ll likely get more fat from the bacon. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons before adding the cauliflower.

If the skillet becomes a bit dry while cooking the cauliflower you can add a tablespoon of water after stirring.

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