Week 24, Recipes 3 & 4: Roasted Cauliflower Soup & White Bean & Roasted Shrimp Salad

Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4-6

1 quart milk
Kosher salt
1 head of cauliflower, cored and broken into florets
½ onion, sliced
8 sprigs fresh thyme (divided use)
½ cup (1 stick) plus 4 tablespoons unsalted butter (divided use)
1 bay leaf
Extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
4 slices brioche or other bread, toasted
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

To roast cauliflower for a side dish, toss florets with a bit of olive oil and salt. Spread on a baking sheet and roast at 400 F for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Don't be afraid to let the cauliflower get good and brown.

Pour the milk into a large saucepan, add a little salt, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Set aside about 1/2 cup cauliflower florets for garnish; put the rest in the pan with the milk.
Add the onion, 4 thyme sprigs, 1/2 cup butter and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender. 
Discard the thyme and bay leaf, then purée the soup in a blender, covering the top of the blender with a folded dish towel.  (I used my immersion blender to puree directly in the saucepan)

While the cauliflower is cooking, preheat the oven to 350 F. Grate the toasted bread on a box grater. (I used ready made bread crumbs.) Thinly slice the reserved cauliflower florets and combine with the bread crumbs and the leaves from the remaining 4 thyme sprigs. Drizzle with 4 tablespoons melted butter and toss. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and toast in the oven until lightly browned and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the oven, scrape into a bowl and stir in the parsley.
To serve, pour the soup into serving bowls and drizzle with a little more olive oil. Sprinkle with the seasoned crumbs.
Results: Very, very good.
White Bean and Roasted Shrimp Salad with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette
Serves 4

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
8 fresh sage leaves
cracked black pepper
1 pint mixed red and yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
1 can (14 oz) cannellini beans, drained
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 bunch watercress, stems trimmed just above the rubber band

Preheat the oven to 350. Arrange 2 racks in the oven.

Arrange the shrimp in a single layer on half of a large baking sheet and put the bacon pieces on the other half. Drizzle with olive oil and season the shrimp with salt and scatter the sage leaves and pepper over all. Stick that into the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the shrimp are cooked through and the bacon is crisp and browned and the fat has been rendered.
At the same time, on a second baking sheet, drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss. Put the tomatoes in the oven and roast until they burst, about 10 minutes.

Scrape the tomatoes, shrimp, bacon and any juices into a large bow. Add the beans, the vinegar, and a healthy drink of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Fold in the watercress.

 Results: Really good, light and pretty filling.  And look how pretty!

*This was a jointly written post from Stace & me.