Roasted Cauliflower

Yesterday got me thinking about flavorful vegetarian cooking.  I have been a vegetarian (or, now, a mostly-vegetarian, with apologies to those who are offended by the concept) for my entire cooking life.  So I have never relied on meat to flavor my food.  What do I rely on?  Vegetables, heat applied to vegetables, fat, salt, spices and herbs.  I also know and revel in the range of textures and flavors that each vegetable can provide on the plate: a beet can be meltingly sweet and earthy or brightly crisp and bracingly imbued with lemon or ginger.  Fennel can be a licorice tangle of crunch, a whisper of greens in a salad, or carmelized to a sweet and savory mush that is barely haunted by anise flavor.  And I get excited every time I discover a novel way to cook a vegetable.

By way of illustrating the range of a humble vegetable, I thought I’d share a very simple but utterly delicious recipe for roasted cauliflower.  Compare it to this simple, creamy 5-ingredient Cauliflower Soup (cauliflower, onion, olive oil, water, salt).  Compare it to this Smoky Cauliflower Frittata.  You can take a cauliflower in a lot of directions.  But once it’s roasted, that’s pretty much the end of the line for a cauliflower in our house.  It often gets eaten off the sheet pan before dinner is even on the table.

Roasted Cauliflower: Chop one head of cauliflower (or two, if you want one left to put on the table with dinner) into medium florets, and chop the remaining stem into slightly smaller pieces.  If the leaves are large, chop them as well, otherwise leave them whole.  Pile onto a roasting pan, including the tiny bits–these will brown into delicious little salty bites.  Toss with olive oil and salt and roast at 450.  Turn with a tongs after 20 minutes, then every 10 minutes after that, until they are nice and brown on all sides (about 45 minutes total).  Hide from passers-by until serving.



20 thoughts on “Roasted Cauliflower

  1. baconbiscuit212

    I was a vegetarian for over a decade, which never fails to shock my friends as most of them have only ever known me as being a militant carnivore.

    But I have to say that I would never be the cook that I am without having learned how to make something wonderful and delicious without meat first.

    I love your blog; every post reminds me of why I love food and cooking. Thank you!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Thank you for such a nice compliment! I am glad to hear that you made the leap from vegetarian to nonveg cooking with ease. I have been trying to occasionally make chicken so my kids have some other protein options. Sometime I will post the ridiculous story of my recent attempt to roast a chicken ala Julia Child. So glad to know there’s hope for me yet. :)

  2. StefanGourmet

    I love roasted cauliflower and often serve it as a side. Have you ever tried to steam the cauliflower first? I think it makes for an interesting change in texture: more tender on the inside and more crunchy on the outside. Make sure to let dry well and drizzle with olive oil before roasting.

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Apologies if you receive this reply twice; I thought I had responded, but I don’t see it posted here! I usually just roast without steaming, since it’s faster, but I do think the texture you’re describing sounds appealing! And I like experimenting with the full range of what a vegetable can do, so I will try steaming my cauliflower first next time! Thank you for the tip.

      1. StefanGourmet

        The roasted cauliflower without steaming turned out fine. It had a bit more ‘bite’ to it than the pre-steamed, but since it is less work I might do this more often :-) My guests said they were surprised that cauliflower could have so much taste…

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