Ode to Cauliflower

Why is the Practical Cook waxing poetic over a vegetable that resembles a brain? Because like the brain, it is infinitely versatile. Gentle reader, I shall avoid taking the metaphor further, for fear of becoming gross. The love affair with cauliflower is a new one, after years of rebuking cauliflower as a broccoli wannabe. Then I met Gobi Manchurian.


Gobi Manchurian

Gobi Manchurian

A quick Google search will serve up several interesting recipes, including the one featured above (which I have not tried, because I don’t fry at home, but it looks very tasty). The version I make is a healthy home c00k’s version, roasting the cauliflower instead of frying.

The technique is very straightforward, courtesy of Mark Bittman’s fantastic How to Cook Everything, and serves as a great building block recipe.  I offer 3 different serving options at the end, for all tastes and occasions.

Roasted Cauliflower in Three Ways

1 head of cauliflower (refer to it as “brains” if you’re feeding young men, gobi if you want to market it, and cauliflower if you are a risk-taker)
olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. Cut or break the cauliflower into small florets. Wash and dry thoroughly.


Cauliflower in Florets

Cauliflower in Florets

3. Toss cauliflower florets on a rimmed baking sheet with a splash of olive oil. Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Roast for 20-30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the florets are at your preferred level of roastiness. (Browner = sweeter; Blackened = burned)

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

5. Serve as desired from the options below, or your own creativity.

Option A: Serve as a side dish under grated extra sharp cheddar cheese. (Naming names here–if you have access, choose a really good sharp cheddar. It has way more flavor. The Practical Cook is partial to Tillamahook.)

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Grated Cheddar Cheese

Option B: In a small skillet, reduce 1/2 to 1 cup of ketchup, stirring constantly,  mixed with your choice of minced garlic, dash of cayenne, sprinkle of cumin, dash of ginger (fresh or ground) over medium heat until the ketchup is thicker and a bit caramelized around the edges (5-7 minutes should do the trick). This is a riff on Mark Bittman’s Gobi Manchurian, and it is so easy it’s obnoxious. The flavor is amazing, trust me.

Option C: Toss with a pasta made with either a garlicky oil sauce or a homemade creamy sauce (poor man’s bechamel, look for the full recipe tomorrow).

Pasta Tossed with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Garlic

Pasta Tossed with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Garlic

Let me know if there’s a vegetable or food you’ve recently learned to love, and how you got there. Share a picture, and we’ll share the story.

Tomorrow, join us for the stunning conclusion of Ode to Cauliflower: the full recipe for Pasta Tossed with Roasted Cauliflower, Tomatoes, and Garlic.




Filed under On the Table, One Ingredient Three Ways, Recipes

3 responses to “Ode to Cauliflower

  1. Pingback: One Ingredient, Three Ways: Bacon Edition | The Practical Cook

  2. Pingback: Weekly Menus: Week of 4/7/2013 (with actual meal plans!) | The Practical Cook

  3. Pingback: Grilling What You’ve Got: Carrots, Cauliflower, Broccoli | The Practical Cook

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