Now I love cauliflower, but I understand that it seldom receives a warm reception and that it will regrettably never be the sweetheart of the vegetable world. Although I will eagerly eat it raw, steamed or puréed, it’s just not something that a lot of people get excited about.
So how do you transform this often overlooked, if not loathed, vegetable into something worth getting excited about?
No, you don’t have to drown it in a mound of cheese sauce (although I have to admit it’s quite delicious that way as well) – you roast it.
While roasting may not be the first preparation method that comes to mind when cooking cauliflower, it is so simple and the results so reassuringly sweet and tender, that it might just become your new go-to method.
Roasting cauliflower brings out its inherent sweetness and unearths a subtle nuttiness.
I like to slice my cauliflower straight down from the top into thick slabs. I then toss the resulting slices, like branches of coral, with olive oil and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper before sliding them into a hot oven.
Browning occurs where the flat surface of the slices comes into contact with the heat of the sheet pan, coaxing out all those delightful sweet nutty flavors.
Still hot, the cauliflower is gently tossed with the olive mixture and the two are left to meld under the heat of the oven for just a while longer, roasting until the cauliflower is fork tender, accented by a few hints of golden brown crispiness here and there.
Once out of the oven the cauliflower and olive mixture is punctuated by a briny dose of capers as I hover impatiently nearby waiting for it to cool enough to pick at a few pieces. Top it with a shower of vibrant chopped parsley and a handful of toasted walnuts and it’s ready to devour.
Sweet, nutty, salty and creamy this dish equally good as an appetizer or a side.
RECIPE: Roasted Cauliflower with Olives and Herbs
- 2 medium cauliflower heads, trimmed, halved lengthwise, cored and sliced or cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 Tablespoons/ 30ml extra virgin olive oil
- flaky sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup/ 200g marinated olives with garlic, thyme and rosemary (see associated recipe)
- 2 Tablespoons salt-packed capers, rinsed, soaked, or brine-packed capers, rinsed
- 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¼ cup/ 28g chopped roasted walnuts
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- In large bowl, toss cauliflower with oil, season with salt and pepper. Spread in single layer on large baking sheet (or two, if one looks crowded).
- Roast stirring occasionally for 20 minutes.
- Add the marinated olives and roast for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is lightly browned in spots and just tender.
- Transfer roasted cauliflower to a large bowl add capers and chopped parsley and toss to mix well.
- Season with more salt and pepper if desired and sprinkle with chopped walnuts.
- Serve immediately or let stand at room temperature up to 1 hour before serving.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s)
Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegan
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 4 to 6
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How do you like to eat cauliflower?