Sometimes some pretty wonderful dishes come together without much thought. We had fennel that we needed to use, but hadn't fully decided on how. We almost did a fennel and orange salad (a classical pairing) but decided we needed a main course instead.
Fennel to me goes well with sausage, as it is often a flavoring in sausage. So first, I browned some sage flavored sausage. Then I removed it from the pan and used the drippings to saute some onion (always a good bet) and the fennel, which Darling Husband sliced on the mandolin.
A note of caution about the mandolin: it is a wonderful tool, but all too easily it lulls you into a false sense of security. Always use the guard!! Pampered Chef actually makes one that you can't use without the guard. Maybe the design people at PC heard about my sister slicing off the tip of her finger making eggplant parm. Perhaps they, like me, have the image of her fingertip laying on the cutting board permanently seared into their cerebral mash. Or, maybe their lawyers just thought it was smart.
Back to the dish. We needed something to bulk up the dish and cut the assertiveness of the fennel, which could get old if overused. In went sliced cabbage. To help it all braise (though it was softening nicely) I added a bit of chicken stock. Meanwhile, I made little radiator style pasta in some more chicken broth, in order to impart as much flavor as possible. Combined with the cabbage/sausage/fennel mixture, the radiators had just the right amount of toothiness, with nooks and crannies galore. Excellent mouth feel. Warm, cozy, flavorful and fall like.
Ah, but I almost forgot about the cauliflower! I did, actually, make my cauliflower and potato gratin, on the previous evening. It was very nice, although my potatoes were a bit toothier than I might have wanted them to be (i.e., I undercooked them). I used a layer of club crackers for a crust, which I quite enjoyed. My mother also got cauliflower and has yet to fully plumb its culinary usefulness, as it's still sitting in her fridge. They were 2/$5 at Wegman's; the only proper course of action is to pick the biggest one so you're getting your money's worth. In this case, each head seemed bigger than the next. The one I picked seemed robust and I was pleased with it. It made a gigantic amount of cheesy veggie fun, so we're eating it for lunches.