First of all, I want to make sure that you saw correctly that this is crum-BY cauliflower and not crum-MY cauliflower. Crummy cauliflower would - by definition - be no good, and that's not what I'm about here... at least I hope not! This cauliflower is good. It definitely does not fall into the crummy category. And it's a quick, easy side dish that can add some zing to your dinner.
Back when I was just out of high school, being a silly young girl, I went and fell in love with a guy who lived in another state far, far away. Of course, that meant that I had to follow him to said state and set up playing house. While I could bore you with the details of my poor decision making skills at the tender age of 18, that's really not important here. The reason I bring it up is that I suddenly started doing a lot of cooking. For the entire time I was with this guy, it was not unusual for me to cook three meals a day. At the time, I wasn't exactly a bad cook, I was just without experience, and side dishes is where I was lacking creativity the most.
When cooking back then, I would often spend most of my time on the main course and the sides were almost an after-thought, usually a boiled or steamed vegetable and a boxed side of pasta or rice. Looking back, I don't think I realized how easy it can be to make really fabulous side dishes that can rival the best main course. This recipe is a perfect example of a simple side dish that really carries its own weight in the meal.
And here's where the crumbs come in. See that golden nugget there in the middle? There's gold in them thar hills! That nugget there is pure bliss. It's salty and slightly crunchy, buttery and chewy. The nuggets go perfectly with a vegetable that is somewhat creamy inside. Ooooo! Pavlovian response. I swear, one of these days my computer's going to short out. Must. Stop. drooling while writing posts.
So, here's how easy it is: melt a little butter over medium heat in a saute pan that has a tight-fitting lid. Add the cut up cauliflower, cover, and shake across the burner periodically to toss and turn the pieces. Be careful not to toss it too often or you won't end up with the nice, tasty caramelization. Continue cooking, about 5-8 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender through and has a nice golden crust on it.
While the cauliflower is cooking, grate a small handful of cheese. I used Gruyere here, but Parmesan would work well, too. In a small bowl or on a paper towel, toss the cheese with a few tablespoons of bread crumbs. I've used both regular bread crumbs and panko. Both are delicious. Throw in a little dried parsley and toss to mix.
When the cauliflower is about done, remove the lid and throw in the cheese mixture. Stir and then continue to cook over medium heat until the cheese mixture is cooked through and nicely golden. Some of it will stick to the cauliflower, some will stick to itself and form nuggets. It's a win-win, I tell you. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!