Thursday, November 1, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower is not everyone’s favourite. But in my opinion, it’s underrated. It doesn’t really have a lot of flavour on its own, which means that you can add flavour easily – we’ve all heard of mashed cauliflower substituting in for mashed potatoes, and how parents puree cauliflower and then hide it in macaroni and cheese without their kids even knowing. Consider it a blank canvas.

It’s not the healthiest vegetable, the vegetables that are healthier are generally brighter in colour (think leafy green, or broccoli), but it’s definitely not unhealthy. I did a quick search online to see what the nutritional content is. Here’s what I found:

½ cup (1”pieces), boiled and drained: calories 14, fat 0g, carbohydrates 3g, fibre 1 g, sugars 1g, protein 1g, vitamin C 46% of your daily allowance, calcium 1% of your daily allowance, and iron 1%. Cauliflower fills you up too so if you’re watching what you eat, fill up on this instead of bread.

I personally like roasting my cauliflower which gives it a nice, nutty flavour. There are many different spices and flavours you can add to it before you roast it – try sesame oil and chilli peppers for a spicy option, or cumin and turmeric for an earthy, Indian-influenced side dish. You can cut it into florets if you’d like individual bite-sized pieces, or mash it up and serve it like a hash. In all recipes you need oil or some kind to encourage the browning, but you don’t need a lot.

My friend Saro gave me his recipe, which I have modified slightly for this blog (I added the onions and garlic for an extra flavour boost). Here it is. I’d love to hear your suggestions for other versions of roasted cauliflower so I can expand my recipe book!


1 head cauliflower
Olive oil – about 3 – 5 tbsp
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese (freshly grated, to taste – I used about 1/3 cup)
Panko or other breadcrumbs (about 1/3 cup)

1 large sweet onion, sliced thin
3 cloves garlic, crushed
Grapeseed oil – about 2 tbsp


Cut the green leaves and stems off the bottom of the cauliflower. Do not cut into florets. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and place the entire head of cauliflower in the pot. Blanch (boil) for about 4 minutes, then flip the cauliflower over to blanch the other side (4 minutes). If your pot is larger than mine, you might not need to do the flip over. So just blanch for about 7 minutes. Remove from the pot and drain in a strainer. If you want to, you can save the water and use it for soup. Or you can toss it.

Place the entire head of cauliflower onto a baking sheet. Drizzle 3 – 5 tbsp olive oil over it, and grind some fresh salt and pepper on top. Place it in the oven at 375 degrees F for 20 minutes. Pull it out and flip it over. Bake for another 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, slice your onions and crush your garlic. Heat the grapeseed oil in a sauté pan and put the onions in. Leave the heat on high for about 1 – 2 minutes or until the onions start to brown around the edges. Reduce the heat to low and let the onions cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for another 5 – 10 minutes until nicely caramelized. Set aside.


Now, remove the baking tray from the oven, mash the cauliflower using a potato masher.

Sprinkle with half the parmesan cheese. Then sprinkle the panko on top. Cover with the rest of the parmesan and some more freshly ground black pepper. Taste it – if it needs salt, add a tad.


Raise the oven rack to the second from the top level in your oven. Pop the cauliflower back in the oven, this time on broil (500 degrees).  Leave it in there for 10 minutes. Remove the baking tray and spoon onto plates.

Serve with the onions and garlic on top as a garnish. 
Adding toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts would also add some nice texture (and nutritional value!).

Then send me a note and tell me I just changed your life.

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