Versatile vegetable makes great side dish or entree.
Roasted to a toasty, crispy, deep brown, cauliflower’s starchy crevices turn all caramelized and nutty. This pale white cruciferous vegetable is better suited to roasting than it is to boiling or steaming into a limp, watery mass. When cauliflower is roasted, its subtle sweetness and slightly bitter edge turn robust and the texture becomes meaty.
What’s more, roast cauliflower is as delicious served at room temperature as it is sizzling hot from the oven. It makes a terrific side to roast chicken or lamb and is surprisingly perfect with seared scallops and shrimp because they, too, are naturally sweet.
But we’ve found that roasted cauliflower is so delicious it can take center plate. I admit that when I’m on my own, the recipe that follows, meant for four, actually yields just one very hearty serving.
For a main dish, top roasted cauliflower with crushed nuts or toasted breadcrumbs or sharp cheese and present on polenta, or toss it with dried fruit and a dash of lemon or orange juice and serve on saffron rice. Leftovers, if you have them, are great in a salad with chopped apples or pears and walnuts in a sharp vinaigrette.
These days, our farmers markets offer an array of colorful cauliflower with names such as “cheddar,” “orange bouquet,” “graffiti” or “purple cape” (both deep violet) and green (sometimes called “broccoflower”).
Because it is a member of the brassica family, cauliflower contains a ton of phytochemicals and antioxidants. But the main selling point is its delicious ease and versatility. So, double this recipe: Two roasted heads are always better than one.
Serves 4 to 6.
Note: From Beth Dooley.
• 1 whole cauliflower, stem removed and trimmed, broken into florets
• 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 tbsp. coarse salt
• 2 tbsp. fresh orange juice
• 1 tbsp. orange zest
• 1/4 c. dried cranberries, optional
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the florets with the oil and spread out on a baking sheet so they do not touch. Sprinkle with the salt.
Roast, rotating the pan halfway through and stirring the florets, so that they are browned all over, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and drizzle with the orange juice, sprinkle with the zest and the dried cranberries, if using. Serve hot or at room temperature.
Nutrition information per each of 6 servings:
Calories 68 Fat 5 g
Sodium 970 mg Sat. fat 1 g
Carbs 6 g Calcium 24 mg
Protein 2 g Chol 0 mg
Dietary fiber 2 g
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 1 vegetable, 1 fat.