caught up in the cauliflower craze

There’s no denying: Cauliflower is having its moment.

Cauliflower rice. Cauliflower grits. Cauliflower steak. Fried cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower. Roasted cauliflower.

For many, it’s a low-carb substitute. Me, I just love its versatility; that it’s healthier is a bonus. Cauliflower can be “meaty” substitution to a protein, a flavorful side, or a replacement for certain starches and grains.

Lately, I’ve seen a lot of posts about whole roasted cauliflower — you know, ’cause steaming it is so 2016. They interested me because the idea seemed so pure. Instead of cutting it all up or pulverizing it into little bits, these recipes paid homage to the whole head. They also seemed to infuse a lot of flavor into the vegetable, whether through a poach or rub down with oil and spices.

So I had to try.

I took inspiration from two recipes I found online, although you’ll find mine vastly different. They are: Alon Shaya’s Whole Roasted Cauliflower and Whipped Goat Cheese and Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower. (And yes, I wish I could steal their photographs; sorry mine don’t look as good!)

ImageMy first attempt used the poach-then-bake method. In it, I simmered the cauliflower in a pot of chicken stock and herbs (rosemary, thyme and sage). For my second go, I rubbed the cauliflower in oil and shichimi togarashi (a mix of chiles, sesame seeds, orange peel, salt, garlic, pepper, seaweed and ginger).

If I had to make one again, I’d probably go with the classic herb combo, but that’s mostly because the other became far too spicy for me after two bites (I’m a wimp!). And I wouldn’t be in such a rush to get them on the table. Always remember that cooking takes time and patience. Both needed slightly longer cook times for the veg to become tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.

Either way, you really can’t go wrong. In fact, don’t limit yourself to the flavors I tried — cauliflower adapts so easily you really can get it to take on any identity you want. Some other ideas include buffalo, parmesan, Cajun, teriyaki, honey garlic, curry and lemon pepper.

Be adventurous. Be you.

lbt


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HERB-INFUSED WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER

Serves 4-6. Cook time 2 hours.

Ingredients

1 whole head of cauliflower

6-8 cups chicken or vegetable stock

3-5 rosemary sprigs

3-5 thyme branches

3-5 sage leaves

3 cloves garlic

FullSizeRender-51 small onion (optional)

2 tbsp salt

1 tbsp pepper

2 tbsp olive oil

*Herb and stock measurements are approximate. You may want to increase or decrease depending on how much stock it takes to cover the cauliflower and how big the head is.

Directions

Combine stock, rosemary, thyme, sage, garlic, onion, salt and pepper in a large pot. Bring to a boil and let reduce, approximately 30 minutes, to really infuse the liquid with the flavor of the herbs. While that cooks, clean the cauliflower, removing all the leaves.

Turn down the heat to medium high. Add in the whole head of cauliflower and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the cauliflower starts to become tender. While that is cooking, heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Remove the cauliflower from the stock and strain out some of the herbs. Save the stock for a soup or stew.

Place the cauliflower in a greased baking dish, coat with olive oil, more salt and pepper, and add herbs back on top. Bake in the oven 45 minutes to an hour, or until the cauliflower is fully tender and the outside is golden to dark brown (crispy).

Let rest for 10 minutes. Remove herbs, cut and serve.


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SHICHIMI TOGARASHI-RUBBED WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER 

Serves 4-6. Cook time 1-1.5 hours.


Ingredients

1 whole head of cauliflower

3-4 tablespoons of shichimi togarashi (learn how to make your own)

2 tbsp olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

FullSizeRenderWhile that warms up, coat the cauliflower (yes, even the nooks and crannies and underside) in olive oil. Then rub it with the spices until completely covered.

Place it in a well-greased baking dish then cook in the oven for an hour to an hour and a half, or until it’s tender all the way through and browned/crispy on the outside. The cook time may vary depending on the size of the cauliflower.

Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes. Cut and serve.

*Note: I used purple cauliflower, but choose whatever color you want. They’re all the same.

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Hi, I'm Larrisa. I like to cook, write, read, sing in the shower and trick my dog into playing fetch with me. I am easily distracted by shiny objects, although I still believe in hard work (and unicorns).

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