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Michael Chiarello lives in Napa Valley. He cooks, he creates wonderful restaurants [Tra Vigne, Bottega, …] and he writes recipes that you will want to try. The subtitle to his new book Bottega — his seventh —  reads “Bold Italian Flavors from the Heart of California’s Wine Country.” This book truly lives up to its name. These are new recipes, new combinations that reflect Chiarello’s care and diligence. This cauliflower recipe is superb. How good is it? My husband Brian asked for seconds. Cauliflower for God’s sake! This isn’t a just a recipe. It’s a miracle.

As you can see from the picture, this dish presents beautifully on the table. I know, there are enough ingredients here to think you are in a Chinese restaurant but every element here, and every step, is necessary.

In the cookbook, this dish serves as a side for scallops. With the “sweet sour” sauce this cauliflower is bold enough to complement any protein main course: chicken, turkey, beef, … It’s versatile, beautiful and delicious.

Cauliflower Agrodolce

Yield: 10 t0 12 servings


  • 3 cups white wine vinegar or Champagne vinegar
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 1 sweet white onion, finely diced
  • ½ cup unsalted butter
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 head of cauliflower (about 2 ½ pounds) broken into florets
  • Pinch of sea salt, preferably gay salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup olio nuovo or finest late-harvest olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shredded fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves


In a large saucepan or sauté pan (at least 10 inches wide), combine the vinegar, sugar and raisins. Bring to a boil over medium heat and add the onion. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the onion is soft and the liquid is reduced to about 1 cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Heat a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat, add the butter with the olive oil and heat until the butter foams. Add the cauliflower florets and season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender and lightly browned, about 7 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon or wire skimmer, transfer the cauliflower to a sieve or colander to allow excess fat to drip off. Wipe out the sauté pan and return the drained cauliflower to the pan over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the vinegar mixture and toss to infuse the flavors. Drizzle with the olio nuovo. Top with the parsley and taste for seasoning.

Use now or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours; reheat in a large sauté pan over medium heat.

Source: Michael Chiarello’s Bottega