Dine on winter whites

Leah Eskin
Chicago Tribune

Diner en Blanc — dinner in white — is an enchanting idea. Guests, dressed in their finest whites, learn last-minute the unlikely location of their meal — say, outside Lincoln Center. Exhibiting, in the words of the international organization, “decorum, elegance, and etiquette,” they stage a posh picnic.

I’m all for unlikely, for elegance, for picnic, though in the 30 years since a guy named Francois Pasquier suggested his friends get together in a park, in white, I’ve never attended the event. The secret society meets in Santo Domingo, the Dominican Republic, and Abidjan, Ivory Coast, and other spots I frequent infrequently. Like, never.

In fact, the whole project, while very public — who can miss 10,000 Parisians, in white, dining under the Eiffel Tower — it’s also very private. You have to be invited.

Instead, I pull together my own white night. I prepare an all-white meal — steamed haddock, stewed cannellini beans, slivered endive, roasted cauli­flower warmed with garlic and anchovy. I cue up the remastered “White Album.” In an elegantly distressed white T-shirt, I reveal the location — kitchen table — and enjoy Diner en Blanc, home-style.


Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 30 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

2 firm heads cauliflower

Olive oil

1 clove garlic

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 to 6 anchovy fillets

Freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Pecorino Romano cheese, grated, optional

Roast: Heat oven to 425. Trim away cauli­flower cores; cut the heads into florets. Toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until tender and browned in many spots, tossing once or twice,

25 to 30 minutes.

Mash: Meanwhile, use a mortar and pestle to mash garlic and salt to a paste. Drop in pepper and anchovies and mash. Work in 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/4 cup olive oil.

Toss: When cauli­flower is done, scrape it into a serving bowl. Toss with anchovy sauce. Taste and add lemon juice or olive oil if

needed. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and a little cheese, if you like.