“Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Mark Twain
I rank cauliflower only slightly ahead of brussels sprouts, which is probably the cruelest joke of a vegetable ever. I know people who love, no…adore brussels sprouts. My sister-in-law is one, and she keeps trying to convert me with different BS dishes — some with garlic, some with lemon, some with bacon. I say “BS” to them all.
Cauliflower is only marginally less offensive. Yes, I’ve had it steamed, raw, and pureed to replace mashed potatoes (a cardinal sin, by the way…there is NO substitute for perfectly mashed potatoes.) The only way I hadn’t tried cauliflower was roasted. And, eureka! I found the key to getting cauliflower on my plate in an edible form.
Shopping at the farmers’ market this weekend, I was struck by the beauty of the bin of cauliflower heads (I never said I didn’t like the way they look, I just never liked the way they taste.) I picked up a perfectly formed head of cauliflower, creamy white with tight florets, and soft green leaves curling seductively over the edges of the head. I couldn’t resist.
Since I picked up some gorgeous red beets at the same time, I thought perhaps I should try roasting the cauliflower while I was at it. The beets, wrapped in foil, take about an hour to roast at 400 degrees, so just 30 minutes before they were done, I got to work on slicing the cauliflower.
First I cut the florets from the core. Then I sliced each floret just thicker than 1/4-inch. They looked like mushroom slices when I was finished. I put them in a deep bowl and drizzled a dipping oil over them — a combination of olive oil and balsamic vinegar that I also picked up at the market. I drizzled probably 3 tablespoons of the dipping oil all over the head of sliced florets. A sprinkle of salt and a few grinds of fresh pepper, combined with a few good tosses to distribute the flavorings, and it was ready to go into the oven.
My timer read 15 minutes and I scooted the foil wrapped beets to one side of the sheet pan and spread my cauliflower over the rest of the pan. After ten minutes, I gave the cauliflower a good stir, noticing that the bottoms had started to caramelize nicely. Another 5 minutes and the cauliflower was tender, and spotted brown in places from contact with the sheet pan.
Fork ready, I took a bite. Oooh. Sweet, tender, and just a whisper of tang from the vinegar. Ah. I think I like educated cabbage after all.