Serving a whole head of cauliflower makes for a dramatic presentation - best of all, you can do all of the prep work ahead of time, and bake the dish just before serving. First the cauliflower is steamed until just tender. Then it's topped with buttery, caraway-scented rye bread crumbs and baked until it's hot. Caraway and cauliflower are natural partners, but if you don't like the taste, this dish will still be tasty without the caraway seeds and with plain breadcrumbs.
cauliflower (about 3 pounds)
unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
shallots (finely minced)
caraway seeds (lightly crushed)
1 ½ cup
fresh rye bread crumbs (from 3 large slices of rye bread)
Freshly ground black pepper
fresh flat leaf parsley (minced)
Trim the cauliflower and discard any leaves. Hollow out the core while keeping the head intact. Place the cauliflower in a basket or on a rack over boiling water in a large, covered pot, and steam until the vegetable is just crisp-tender, 10 to 13 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower to a baking dish and set aside. At this point the cauliflower can be refrigerated, covered, for up to 1 day. Let it return to room temperature before continuing.
Meanwhile, position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the shallots and caraway seeds, and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bread crumbs, salt, and pepper, and cook until the crumbs are golden and hot, stirring frequently, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the parsley. Pat the crumb mixture evenly over the top of the cauliflower. Bake the cauliflower until it is hot, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve immediately.