Article first published as Don't Be So Quick to Dismiss Roasted Cauliflower on Blogcritics.
Cauliflower can be the hero of your vegetable drawer. I’m totally NOT kidding. If you grew up, as I did, dreading this bland, boring, slightly smelly soggy veggie, usually over-boiled to a mushy consistency and possibly drowned with cheese sauce, you’re in for a great treat! If you respect the subtlety of cauliflower and nurture it just a bit, you’ll have many options for great side dishes. I’m sharing a roasting recipe that can be adapted in many ways to accommodate your mood and accompany the other elements of your meal. I’m going to suggest a few ideas, but my hope is that you’ll be inspired to create your own. I’m also going to share a couple of yummy ways to creatively use leftovers. Cauliflower – I promise it will end up being a favorite of yours too!
1 head cauliflower, washed and patted dry
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray. Take the washed head of cauliflower, cut it in half, and remove / discard the core with a sharp knife. Then, take each half and separate it into florets. If they’re large, cut them in half lengthwise, so that you have some uniformity in the pieces. Spread them out in a single layer on the foil-lined baking sheet. Either mist the florets with the olive oil or if you do not have a mister, drizzle it as evenly as possible over the pieces and then use a brush to spread the oil a bit more evenly. Season with salt and pepper. I personally like to use good quality sea salt, or at least kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Put in the oven and roast for 15 minutes.
Now, if you’re making just basic roasted florets, you can just pull out the pan, shake it a little bit, spray it with some more olive oil or cooking spray, and put it back in for 12 more minutes. You can garnish with a little bit of chopped parsley and enjoy.
I prefer it flavored up a bit! Here are some ideas. For all of these suggestions, roast as directed for 15 minutes, remove the pan, shake it a little it, add the topping(s), and then put back in the oven for an additional 12 minutes. Garnish as suggested and season again with salt/pepper to taste.
Mustard- Glazed Cauliflower: Take 3 Tbsp butter and melt it in the microwave. Stir in 1 Tbsp whole grain mustard and the zest of one lemon and 1 tbsp lemon juice. Drizzle evenly over the florets, roast for 12 additional minutes and garnish with some fresh thyme before serving.
Italian- Style Cauliflower: Remove baking sheet from the oven after the first roasting. Take 2 Tbsp of regular or reduced fat packaged pesto sauce, and mix it with 3 Tbsp chicken stock or olive oil. Now, shake the baking pan a bit and toss in some cherry or grape tomatoes and a handful of pine nuts. Drizzle the pesto mixture on top of the florets and return to the oven for 12 more minutes. Garnish with fresh chopped basil.
Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower: After the first roasting, remove the baking sheet form the oven and grate some fresh parmesan cheese over the florets. Return to the oven for 12-15 additional minutes. Remove for the oven and garnish with some chopped parsley a it more fresh parmesan cheese just before serving.
Southwestern-Style Cauliflower: Before the initial roasting, drizzle florets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with cumin, coriander, garlic powder and chili powder. Roast for 25 minutes at 425, shaking baking tray once or twice. Garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro and a squeeze of fresh lime juice if desired.
What else can you think of? Please share if you have other ideas!
Here are some great ways to use any leftovers.
Soup! Take the leftover roasted cauliflower and any pan drippings/seasonings and add them to a medium pan with some low salt chicken or vegetable broth. Simmer until very tender, and then puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Add some half and half, plain yogurt or cream to thicken if desired and season with salt and pepper.
Mash! Reheat any leftovers in the microwave and then puree in a food processor, adding any desired seasonings, spices, or cheese to taste. If needed, you can adjust the consistency with some reduced fat sour cream, plain yogurt, or cream. This is a great vitamin-packed and low cal substitute for mashed potatoes. I really like to make a bit of this using leftovers and blend it with a couple of real mashed potatoes.