Golden Roasted Cauliflower

March 18, 2010

 

Categories:
Appetizers, Basics, Dinner, Fall, Local Eating, Lunch, Recipes, Seasons, Side Dishes, Spring, Winter


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I realize that many people will not give this post much attention and that makes me sad. I feel that cauliflower is much maligned—or at least wildly underappreciated. How is it that such a beautiful thing can be considered so unglamorous? Is it because they look a little bit wan? I’ve thought that myself, I admit. Pure white food shouldn’t come from the ground. It should lighten coffee. Or come in a waffle cone. Cauliflower is a little bit of gastronomic dissonance, I guess.

But what about the potato? Until Dr. Atkins, everybody loved the potato. It’s just as pallid as cauliflower, just clothed a little bit. Radishes are also white, and people love them grated beside raw fish or slashed into a slaw. And the turnip? Well… that’s not exactly helping my argument. All I’m saying is that the plain color of cauliflower should not be a deterrent. Unless, of course, it should be.

moreflorettes

In all honesty, I’m not sure that cauliflower should be entirely pale. I have had my fair share of Styrofoam tasting cauliflower, that’s for sure. But that was back when I shopped at Kroger (before I became a snob…) and ate produce that might have been waiting for me for months, turning whiter and whiter. I’m not so elite, really. I still buy things at Kroger… things like baking soda and crackers and tonic water. But when it comes to anything that truly needs to be fresh to taste good, I avoid most places with the option for self-checkout.

This cauliflower is the perfect example. If you’ve never had just-picked cauliflower, consider yourself duped. This is a social justice issue, folks: people deserve fresh fruits and vegetables. Not just people living in food desserts, I mean everyone. And most people aren’t getting it. Even people who shop at Whole Foods.

Of course this is a stale argument, but I’m afraid it remains lost on many. If you want to know how a certain food really tastes, you’ve got to get it as close to the source as possible. If you are not shopping at a farmer’s market or growing your own food, you are missing out on what food really tastes like. Furthermore, you’re missing out on what it can possibly look like. Look at this cauliflower!

cauliflowers

Look again!

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It’s extraordinary—hints of green, purple, pink. It’s no ashen off-white. It’s alive with flavor. It’s sweet, subtle. Perfect for roasting with strong, sweet pine nuts and fresh, brilliant parsley leaves. We pulled at least ten heads of cauliflower out of the school garden before Spring break. I was a little intimidated of the three I was given, but as soon as I snapped off a floret, my fear abated. Now I wish I had taken five heads.

Roasting was my favorite way to eat these, of course. The edges got crisp and savory, with just a bit of olive oil and salt. I had more than I could eat in a single sitting, but the roasted florets perked up nicely in my toaster oven whenever I wanted a serving. If you’re not a cauliflower person, get out of the grocery store. Unless, of course, you’re busy buying olive oil and salt.

Golden Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 2

1 head of cauliflower

2 T olive oil, plus more for serving

1/4 c chopped parsley

1/4 c pine nuts

Salt

Parmesan cheese, for serving, if you wish

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Heat oven to 400 (you can add cauliflower before oven reaches desired temperature.

Break florets off cauliflower stem into bite-sized pieces.

In a medium bowl, toss cauliflower with 2 T olive oil and a generous pinch of salt.

Spread floretes evenly on a baking sheet, with room between each (to prevent steaming).

Roast 12 minutes then turn for even cooking.

Roast an additional 10-15 minutes, or until cauliflower becomes soft in the center and crisp on the edges.

In the meantime, heat a skillet with pine nuts and parsley until nuts turn slightly brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove roasted cauliflower and toss with nuts and parsley.

Drizzle with additional olive oil before serving, add Parmesan if desired, and salt to taste.

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