Bonding Over Pineapple Lumps

by Anna Hewitt

About a month ago, Ollie and I went into a cool wee shop just round the corner from our apartment. The kind that sells beautiful greeting cards, necklaces, tea towels and candles. The girl working there was eating pineapple lumps so of course, we struck up conversation. She had just received a care package from her mum back in New Zealand containing the pineapple lumps and large amounts of Whittaker’s chocolate. She seemed lovely, so I went back in the next week and gave her my number. Now this may seem rather forward, but in a city where you don’t know many people and you meet a good one, you just have to be bulshy!

Turns out we have a whole lot in common, both having studied English and Art Theory, worked in galleries around NZ, and have since been hanging out. Last week we were going to be going to an art exhibition after work, but cold misty weather, tired feet and hungry tummies brought us up to our place with some red wine instead. I rummaged in the fridge and found a cauliflower, some chicken stock in the freezer, and this cauliflower risotto was made.

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Cauliflower Risotto – thanks Jamie O.

1 cauliflower
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
1 stick celery
1 glass of wine
1 1/2 cups of amborio rice
1 litre chicken stock
Salt and Pepper
Parmesan

For the Pangrattato
A chunk of stale bread, I used walnut bread
3 anchovies
Chili flakes
2 sprigs of thyme, leaves removed
Olive oil

Firstly, attack your beautiful cauliflower. Trim the leaves off and cut out the middle trunk part so you are left the florets. Add these to your pan of hot stock and they will start to soften. Next, finely slice the middle trunk, the onion, garlic and celery stalk and gently fry for about 15 minutes, or until they have softened. When the vegetables have softened, add the rice and fry until it is slightly translucent. Next add the glass of wine and stir until the smell of alcohol has disappeared.

You can now start adding the stock and cauliflower bit by bit, little by little. The more you stir, the creamier it gets. You can smash up some of the cauliflower and leave other bits larger to keep the texture interesting. Continue until the rice is cooked and all the cauliflower has been added. The rice should be soft, but still have a bit of bite.

Remove from the heat and add the parmesan. Place a lid on the pan and allow to sit for 2 minutes. This lets the rice get really creamy and thick so don’t skip this step.

While this is happening, roughly chop the walnut bread. In a pan, fry the anchovies and chilli in the olive oil until the anchovies have melted down into a slaty oil. Add the breadcrumbs, stirring and tossing constantly until golden brown.

Serve with the pangrattato sprinkled on top, and some fresh parsley if you have it. The combination of the homely, creamy cauliflower and the crunchy, spicy and salty bread is heavenly. All the more so on a misty weekday night with a glass of wine and a new friend. The ultimate of girl’s nights.

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