Have you ever roasted a whole head of cauliflower? No!? Well, if you have not roasted a whole head of cauliflower, you are missing out. And here’s the thing—you don’t even have to turn on your oven to do it. We can all agree that, in its raw state, cauliflower can be rather unremarkable. However, roasting whole with a good sear and plenty of caramelization brings out the veg’s nuttiness and inherent sweetness.
Slicing the base of the cauliflower creates a large, smooth surface area, which allows the cauliflower to crisp and brown, while the inside steams to fork-tender. The nice thing about this method is that you don’t need to fire up the oven. Rather, the entire cooking process occurs in a pot on the stovetop.
I paired the roasted cauliflower with a gremolata of sorts. Traditionally, gremolata is a chopped-herb topping comprised of lemon zest, garlic, and parsley. Today’s interpretation of this Italian condiment incorporates toasted hazelnuts, sun-dried tomatoes, and olive oil. This gremolata has a natural affinity for roasted vegetables. The toasted hazelnuts lend a bit of crunch to the finished dish, and the sweetness from the sun-dried tomatoes mingles nicely with the brightness of the lemon zest, the sharpness of the garlic, and the herbaceous notes of the parsley.
POT-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH HAZELNUT GREMOLATA
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 small head (about 2 pounds) of cauliflower
3 tablespoons butter
A few sprigs of herbs, such as rosemary and/or thyme
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
Hazelnut gremolata (see recipe below)
1. Remove the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Slice off the bottom of the cauliflower just above the root so that it lies flat.
2. Melt the butter in a cast-iron pot with a lid. Add the herbs. Place the cauliflower, flat side down, in the melted butter. Season with salt. Place the lid on the pot and let cook on medium to low heat for 30 to 35 minutes. After about 20 minutes, flip the cauliflower so the top gets browned. The bottom should be fully caramelized, while the rest of the cauliflower is very tender.
3. Remove the cauliflower from the pot. Add the vinegar to deglaze any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pot and spoon the liquid over the cauliflower. Serve the roasted cauliflower with the hazelnut gremolata.
1/3 cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
2 small garlic cloves, minced
Zest of 2 lemons, finely chopped
1/3 cup toasted and finely chopped hazelnuts
6 to 8 sun-dried tomatoes (packed in olive oil, drained), finely chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
Sea salt to taste
1. To toast the hazelnuts: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly colored and skins are blistered. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam 1 minute. Rub the hazelnuts in the towel to remove their skins (don’t worry if some of the skins don’t come off). Cool completely. Chop.
2. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl. Stir until combined.