Cauliflower is one of the more versatile stars of the vegetable kingdom. It’s delicious raw, marinated or pickled, but when cooked, cauliflower takes on an almost meaty flavour. When baked with cheese, it’s so hearty and satisfying that it’s easy to forget you’re eating a vegetable at all. Aesthetically, it’s a cousin of broccoli, but beyond that, completely different. Roasted until brown and very colourful in this recipe, cauliflower takes on a new enticing dimension. Serve with a rich fatty fish like salmon, or with brisket and lightly steamed leafy greens.
Here is what you’ll need:
- 3 heads of cauliflower, cut or broken into florets (If you can get a variety, available right now in the New York area, it will look gorgeous, I’ve seen purple, orange, green and romanesco.)
- 1 small bunch fresh oregano
- 1 cup chopped parsley (optional)
- Soft butter or/and oil (¼ cup approximately)
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 red chilli or habanero peppers
Directions: Preheat oven to 400 F or 205 C. Line two large baking trays or cookie sheets with parchment or baking paper. Place florets into a large mixing bowl. Strip the leaves off five oregano sprigs and throw them over the cauliflower. Discard the stems. Throw the rest of the oregano sprigs over the cauliflower as well. Put two sprigs aside for presentation. Pour the oil into the bowl or add the butter (or both). Sprinkle the salt, about two tablespoons, but err on the side of less because you can always add more later. Grind a bunch of black pepper, maybe six grinds total. Throw in the peppers whole. Toss the veggies and the herbs well. Spread in a single layer over both baking sheets and roast until “al dente”, soft, but with a bite, about 20 minutes.
Chef’s tip: If you need more space either roast in shifts or get another tray. If you pile up the cauliflower, it will steam instead of roasting.
Photograph by Itta Werdiger Roth