Cauliflower with raisins, pine nuts and pancetta

When it's hot as hell in Texas, it can be hard to even think about eating for me. I don't know if I'm alone in this - maybe I sound crazy - but I just can't stomach lunch or dinner when I'm worried Texas is spinning too close to the sun.

In this instance, I typically turn to vegetables. Not just any veggies though - those that will fill me and my lunch or dinner guests up. Enter one of my favorite foods: cauliflower.

The price is always right for entertaining large groups with cauliflower, and it's pretty simple and seamless to prepare.

Inspired my travels in the Mediterranean - a place where they understand the balance of sweet, salty, sour and savory in just about every meal - I've added pine nuts, juicy yellow raisins and pancetta. Topping off the dish with lemon is just the thing to bring this cauliflower entree or side together. 

What you need

1 head cauliflower

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp pine nuts

2 tbsp golden raisins

4 slices pancetta, diced (about 3 tbsp)

Juice of 1/2 lemon

 How to do it

Preheat your oven to 425-degrees F. 

Chop cauliflower into small florets — no more than 2 inches long — and cut away any thick chunks of the core (it can get a little stringy sometimes). 

Once chopped, place cauliflower on baking sheet covered in foil or parchment paper for an easy cleanup. 

Drizzle olive oil over the cauliflower and stir with a spoon or spatula to coat the cauliflower evenly.

Place cauliflower in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is soft (but not mushy) and begins to turn a golden brown.

While the cauliflower cooks, dice pancetta and place in a sauté pan. Render the pancetta over medium low heat, starting with a cold pan. Cook until the pancetta begins to brown, about 15 minutes; once finished, move pancetta onto a paper towel to drain away the fat. 

To serve, toss the raisins, pine nuts and pancetta with the warm cauliflower. Taste and season as needed with salt and pepper and finish with the juice of half a lemon, then serve immediately. 

This dish makes a hearty, yet pure main course for 2-4, or a nice side dish alongside roast chicken or turkey meatballs for about 4-6 servings. This cauliflower is also pretty delicious cold and at room temperature.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. It's best to store the raisins, pine nuts and pancetta separately from the cauliflower, if making for the week ahead, in a plastic re-sealable bag.