Cauliflower is in its prime, says Amelia Saltsman, author of the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook. And suddenly, it seems like cauliflower is more popular than ever. NPR even declared it the new Brussels sprout.
So why not hop on the cauliflower bandwagon? Pick up a few heads of the veggie at your local farmers’ market and make this recipe for roasted cauliflower from Amelia Saltsman.
The secret to luscious, sweet roasted cauliflower is to blanch the florets in boiling salted water first. This little extra step accomplishes three things: It gets rid of any off odors common to brassicas like cauliflower and cabbage; plumps the florets so they will be more tender after roasting, and shortens the roasting time to allow for good browning without burning.
Makes 6 servings.
1 to 2 heads cauliflower, about 3 pounds total
Couple of tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
Cilantro or parsley
Any one of the following, optional: sweet or hot paprika, piementon, curry powder, garam masala, hot red pepper flakes, freshly ground pepper, cumin
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Break the cauliflower into small florets. Cook the florets in boiling salted water for 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and rinse well under cold water to cool. Spread cauliflower on a towel to dry. (You can stop here and pack in Ziploc bags or storage containers and store refrigerated up to 3 days.)
Place florets on a rimmed sheet pan without crowding. Drizzle oil over and toss to coat. Season with salt and any spice you’d like to use. Toss again and spread florets in a single layer in the pan. Roast until the cauliflower is tender, browned, and crisped in places, about 30 minutes, giving the pan a shake halfway through the cooking time. The florets will have shrunk quite a bit. Season with a little extra salt and serve as is or embellish in one of the following ways:
Toss with lots of good-quality grated parmesan cheese, i.e. Parmigiano-Reggiano the instant the cauliflower comes out of the oven. Season with freshly grated nutmeg and black pepper
Add a handful of plump raisins to the pan during the last 10 minutes of roasting. Then toss with a little more olive oil, chopped parsley or cilantro, sliced garlic, and red pepper flake
Make a nice salsa verde from any of the lovely herbs you find at the farmers’ market, such as parsley and mint, with minced garlic, red wine vinegar, and olive oil. Add capers or anchovies to this if you like.
© 2014, Amelia Saltsman