Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Pears, Sage & Hazelnuts

This was our election night side dish… I served it with my favorite grilled chicken recipe and it was was pretty tasty. This recipe originally appeared in the November 2008 Fine Cooking issue. The only changes I made was to use tri-colored cauliflower, rather than traditional white cauliflower, which added a nice color palate to the dish.

Cauliflower with Brown Butter, Pears, Sage and Hazelnuts
Serves 8 to 10

3 oz (6 tbsp) unsalted butter
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets about 3/4 in wide (as mentioned, I used the tri-color)
1/2 cup toasted, skinned, chopped hazelnuts
8 fresh sage leaves, thinly sliced crosswise
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 large ripe pears, cored and thinly sliced (I used one pear, one brown-skinned heirloom apple)
2 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (I omitted this)

In a 12-inch skillet over med-high heat, melt the butter until light brown and bubbly. Add the cauliflower, hazelnuts and sage. Cook for two minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with 1 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is browned and crisp-tender, 6 to 7 minutes or more.

NOTE: At this point, I deglazed the pan with some white wine, to incorporate all the little golden bits of caramelization that formed on the bottom of the pan. I also threw the apples and pears in earlier, so they would caramelize as well and the sweetness would be enhanced by the cooking.

Remove the pan from the heat. Add the pear slices and parsley. Gently toss to combine and warm the pears. Serve hot or at room temperature. You can prep all the ingredients ahead except for the pears, which will brown if cut too far in advance.

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