Recipe: Shrimp and Roasted Cauliflower Bruschetta
I don’t like the idea of Nine, the new movie based on Fellini’s 8½ and resurrected from the semi-bomb of a Broadway musical of the same name that opened in 1982 and hung around for about a year (my parents didn’t even see it). I think the musical starred Raul Julia, an actor I really loved on film. The movie, with its super-duper cast, including my favorite living actress, Penélope Cruz, seems to be, unfortunately, a huge embarrassment, featuring Nicole Kidman’s new fattened lips that make her look a little like Dr. Joyce Brothers. I saw the cast assembled on Larry King last night, in an apparently desperate attempt to drum up enthusiasm for what looks like a big movie heading to be a big bomb. They showed lots of clips, of course. One that especially caught my attention featured the usually excellent actor Daniel Day Lewis, speaking in an Italian-by-way-of-Montenegro accent. So strange. That pretty French woman who played Edith Piaf so exquisitely a few years back and won an Oscar for it looked lost in the lineup, trying to answer Mr. King’s questions about whether or not she actually liked working with all those other really big actors (questions from a man who recently let slip that he thought Michael Moore had possibly written the song “The Times They Are a-Changin'”). I’m not sure Fellini needs another whipped up homage, especially since in his later years he created a few overexcited and extremely expensive self-celebrations all by himself, such as Satyricon and, a few years later, Casanova. You don’t have to ignore those movies; Casanova is actually pretty funny. But do yourself a favor and watch I Vitelloni again (and then maybe a week later again), and let its beauty fill your heart. You’ll see that love needs little tribute to keep it alive—maybe just a taste of this shrimp and cauliflower bruschetta. Federico, this bruschetta’s for you.
Shrimp and Roasted Cauliflower Bruschetta
(Serves 4 as a substantial first course)
1 medium cauliflower, cut into small flowerettes
¼ teaspoon ground cumin
A pinch of sugar
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1½ pounds large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1 large garlic clove, very thinly sliced
A generous pinch of Aleppo pepper
A splash of dry white wine
½ cup chicken broth
A handful of lightly toasted almond slivers
4 large slices crusty Italian bread, about ¾ inch thick
1 lemon, cut into wedges
A handful of fresh mint leaves
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan. Season it with cumin, salt, a pinch of sugar, and black pepper. Drizzle it well with olive oil, and give it a toss with your fingers. Roast until fragrant, tender, and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Add the shallots in the final few minutes of roasting. Pull the pan from the oven, and give it a good toss.
In a large sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. When the pan is really hot, add the shrimp and the garlic. Season with salt and Aleppo, and sauté quickly, tossing the shrimp once or twice until they’re pink and just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Add the white wine, and let it bubble a few seconds. Add the chicken broth, and let it bubble a second or so. Add the cauliflower, and toss again. Add a generous drizzle of fresh olive oil, and add the almonds. Check the seasoning.
Toast the bread slices on both sides, and lay them out on plates. Drizzle them lightly with olive oil, and season them with salt. Divide the shrimp mixture up onto each toast, letting it spill over onto the plate (this is a knife-and-fork bruschetta). Garnish with the mint leaves and the lemon wedges. Serve hot, along with a slightly bitter green salad, maybe escarole or arugula, simply dressed.