With hundreds of varieties of cauliflower grown all over the world, and at least 80 varieties available in North America, cauliflower is definitely worth getting to know. For one, it has a great attitude. It's willing and able to do just about whatever you can think of. It’s a little nutty, a little sweet when toasted (aren’t we all?) and you can take it anywhere with relatively low risk of offending anyone. It doesn’t get stuck in your teeth. It has colorful kin. It’s not expensive, and cauliflower is available year round. And isn’t that the true mark of a good friend?
The hard part is deciding how to spend your time together. After all, there are so many creative things it’s willing to do. It’s happy to be a soup or a stand in for rice. You can mash it, bake it, mash-then-bake it, puree it, fry, grill or roast it. You can turn it into a tater tot, fritter, shepherd’s pie, a steak, or salad. You get the picture.
1 medium head of cauliflower -- any color
1-2 cloves of garlic to taste, finely minced
Zest and juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
Ground black pepper to taste
3 Tablespoons olive oil
Chopped parsley for ganish
Fire up the oven to 450 degrees. Wash and pat dry the cauliflower.
Start with the vinaigrette. To make the dressing, transfer the minced garlic to a large mixing bowl. This is only going to make a small amount of dressing but you'll be adding the cauliflower to it later so, go with me on the large bowl. Add the lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper. Give that a stir. Whisk in the olive oil and set it aside while you work on the cauliflower.
Remove the big florets from the cauliflower. You can pull them off or cut them with a knife. Then cut them into even-sized pieces. The point is you want them to cook evenly, so give everything a good eye ball to make sure that's the case.
Place the trimmed cauliflower into the dressing and toss to coat. To roast the cauliflower, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. (You don't HAVE to use parchment but it's really a joy to not have to scrub baking trays at the end of the night, and it's compostable. Lay any flat pieces of cauliflower cut-side down. Roast for about 10 minutes before tossing. Return to the oven for about 3 or 4 minutes or until it is browned in spots and everything looks roasty. Oven temperatures vary, so watch for the appropriate amount of browning.
Transfer to a serving dish, drizzle any remaining vinaigrette or another squeeze of lemon, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and enjoy. This dish is also great cold as is, or can be added to salads or wraps for extra texture and flavor.
Isn't she lovely?