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Marcella Beans and Cauliflower in a Lemon Caper Sauce


Steamed cauliflower with white beans and a lemon caper sauce

New York Times contributor Hetty McKinnon recently wrote about Cauliflower Piccata, which on the face of it sounds like a cute way to avoid veal but really, the thought of a lemon caper sauce is very welcome and her dish is great. I made it several times and then followed up with David Tanis' almost similar dish with olives and anchovies. Both cooks used Garbanzo beans. They both are worth making.

Marcellas are somewhat delicate, but they are perfect with the cauliflower and the bright, happy sauce. This is inspired by both McKinnon and Tanis, plus maybe Judy Rogers and The Zuni Cookbook's manifesto on Salsa Verde.

  • 1 small cauliflower, broken up into bite-sized florets
  • 2 anchovy filets, chopped
  • 1/2 to 1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
  • Zest from a lemon
  • Juice from a lemon
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pepper
  • Salt to taste (optional)
  • 1 cup cooked drained Rancho Gordo Marcella beans (or Garbanzo or Alubia Blanca beans)
  1. Boil the cauliflower in gently simmering salted water for about 8 minutes or until just done, watching carefully not to overcook.
  2. Place the chopped anchovies on a cutting board and using the blade of a large chef's knife, smash them up by mashing them against the board until you have a rough paste, or use a mortar and pestle. Add them to a mixing bowl along with the parsley, garlic, capers, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper. Gentle mix and test for seasoning. Add salt if necessary. The mix should be strong and aggressive as it will be tossed with mild cauliflower and beans. Depending on your tastes, you may want to add some more lemon juice.
  3. Toss the sauce over the cauliflower pieces until well-coated. Add the cooked Marcellas, gently folding them in. (If using Garbanzos, Alubia Blanca, to another firmer bean, you don't need to be as gentle.) Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 4 as a side dish and 2 as a main course


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