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Chef's Quick Tip: Vegan dish

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NORWALK -

Chef Francoise, from the Roger Sherman Inn in New Canaan, shares how to make a delicious vegan dish.

Two servings

For the Cauliflower:

1 cauliflower head, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper 
1 tablespoon chopped thyme
salt, for steaming water
For the Fregola
1 cup whole wheat fregola 
½ tsp fennel seed
1 dried red chiles, chopped (reserve seeds)
3 stalks celery, with leaves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped 
½ cups water
½ tsp sea salt
For Romesco Sauce
1 dried habanero chile, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes until soft
4 tablespoons blanched almonds
4 tablespoons hazelnuts
1 ½ cups olive oil plus 4 tablespoons
2 slices (1-inch thick) peasant bread
2/3 cup canned tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped flat parsley
½ lemon
Kosher salt

Cooking the Cauliflower:

Trim cauliflower: remove leaves and leaf stalks. Turn head over and trim out the center of the core, but not so much that the florets fall apart.
Heat about two inches salted water in the bottom of a steamer. Put whole head in the steamer basket and cook just until a sharp knife can pierce it with a slight resistance, 10-20 minutes, depending on the size of the head. Don't overcook; it will continue to cook from residual heat.
Toss the cauliflower with the olive oil, garlic, and red pepper; sprinkle with the salt and thyme and toss again. Roast until golden and tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve.

Cooking the Fregola:

To a medium skillet add the couscous, fennel seed and chiles. Toast over medium-low heat, tossing frequently, until the fregola turns golden and is very fragrant, about five minutes. Add water and salt; cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until water is nearly absorbed and Fregola is al dente, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse immediately in cold water to stop cooking. Allow to strain while you prep the remaining ingredients.

In a large bowl, combine the celery and parsley. Toss to mix. Shake the Fregola to remove all excess water and add to the bowl. Add a generous splash of olive oil and the lemon juice. Toss, then taste and adjust seasonings, adding freshly ground black pepper, salt or chile pepper seeds as necessary. Serve cold or at room temperature.

Making the Romesco:

Place the nuts on a small baking sheet and toast them in the oven at 375 degrees or in a sauté pan on the stove, until golden, about 10 minutes. In a sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil on high and fry the bread on both sides until nicely browned. Remove and set aside and when cool cut into cubes. Add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the pan and sauté the chile for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the juice almost evaporates and the tomato starts to brown. Season with salt. In the bowl of a food processor, add the nuts, garlic and toasted bread to a coarse ground. Add the chile-tomato mixture and puree. Slowly add the olive oil and process to a smooth consistency. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the parsley and lemon juice to taste. Serve at room temperature.

To Serve: 

On two heated plates, pour the Romesco sauce in the center of the plates. Scoop the toasted fregola unto the sauce and finally placed the roasted cauliflower on top of the fregola. Serve immediately.

For more information, click here.

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