Some people do their Christmas shopping early. I do my Christmas-recipe planning well in advance.
Already I've been making notations in the margins of recipes, "Prepare for this year's Christmas buffet." I've scoped out recipes that in one way or another seem to lend themselves to potlucks that pop up at holiday time. Such invitations, though received joyfully, usually are accompanied by a frantic, frustrated sigh: "What in the world can I fix to take?"
I try to anticipate the holiday crunch and help myself out a little. Naturally now would be too early to prepare and freeze a dish, but at least during crunch-time maybe I can find my anticipatory notes to myself and already have a plan in place.
Nothing about Cauliflower Avocado Bake immediately conjures up "Jingle Bells", but the Christmas colors of this vegetable medley (not to mention the absolutely delightful flavor combination of this surprising mixture) would make it a true joy for a holiday take-a-dish event.
I had some leftover cauliflower from when I prepared "Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad" from Truett Welborn's cookbook that honored his mother, Neta (mentioned in my last week's blog.) Hubby looked in the vegetable compartment of the fridge and remarked, "Don't forget the rest of the cauliflower. We need to use it before it goes bad." True, cauliflower rapidly shows its age by getting brown spots or darkened areas. What could I throw together quickly to use up the leftover cauliflower bunch? I didn't have any occasions in which I needed to prepare a veggie tray to cut it up for munchies.
Under my "cauliflower" section of "Celebrating a Healthy Harvest" I found instructions for Cauliflower Avocado Bake. Cauliflower and avocado? Whoever heard of pairing those two? But avocado can make anything better. I decided to try it. Then the colors starting arraying themselves: the green for the avocado, green pepper, green onions, and parsley; the red from the red pepper; white from the cauliflower. Plus grated cheddar cheese on top (every casserole--at Christmas or otherwise--needs a little cheese topping, right?)
Like every other recipe that I prepare from my "Healthy Harvest" booklet, the results were highly unusual and extremely good. The melted cheddar cheese linked the cauliflower and avocado in a seamless flavor combo. As I mentioned earlier, the holiday colors represented the crowning touch. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing"--Christmas is just five months away! Recipe-wise, I'm ready!
Cauliflower Avocado Bake
1 large cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), broken into florets
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 large avocado, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1 tablespoons cooking oil
1 red pepper, cut into thin strips
1 small green pepper, cut into thin strips
4 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/4 pound sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam or boil cauliflower 5 minutes until tender; drain. Grease a 13-inch-by-9-inch baking dish. Spread cauliflower evenly in pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; top with avocado chunks. In a skillet over medium heat saute peppers 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in green onions, parsley, and garlic; cook 2 minutes more. Spread mixture over cauliflower; top with grated cheese. Bake 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly. Makes 6 servings.