Consider the Cauliflower, Roasted—and Prepare Mass Quantities!

It seems unglamorous to the extreme—frumpy, even—to describe roasted cauliflower. But recipes for it swept the foodosphere like wildfire some years back. Everybody was making it. Surely sales of the crucifer spiked. And as only occasionally happens with fads, it passed from mere trend into the collective permanent repertoire.

I like to think it was conferred this higher status due to utter goodness, though  I know roasting’s a good way to persuade children or cauliflower-haters to eat it. But that’s selling it way short. This recipe is not penance for picky eaters—it’s a fabulous, easy way to prepare this widely available, inexpensive, low-calorie, high-in-vitamin-C member of the mustard family. It’s hard to think of a single negative, in fact. The biggest problem is not making enough. Take it from me: Get out your biggest bowl and multiple baking sheets, even if you’re cooking for two.

While the exact point of origin for recipes is hard to pin down, it’s generally agreed that a 2001 Amanda Hesser article in the New York Times ignited the online vegetable furor. (You can read Hesser’s original here.)

I make it slightly differently, having over the years tweaked the recipe to my taste. You will do the same, I’m sure—modifications are perfectly OK, welcomed, encouraged. You could include herbs—thyme and oregano are nice. Or, minced garlic. Or even toss the cauliflower with flavor-infused olive oils (or merely give it a splash of fresh-squeezed lemon as it exits the hot oven).  Toss with pasta, adding grated cheese and parsley, or serve it alone at room temperature with a drizzle of good balsamic. The only thing not to do is fail to add it to your own cooking roster. And with gorgeous cauliflowers so abundant in our farmers markets right now, it’s the perfect time for this just-about-perfect dish.

(Consult Orange Coast’s updated, searchable guide to find a farmers market near you.)

Priscilla’s Roasted Cauliflower

2 large cauliflowers, trimmed of leaves, quartered, and cored

1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dry herbs, such as thyme and/or oregano, optional

1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional

Olive oil, salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper, or oil or spray with non-stick spray. Or line the sheets with foil, for even easier cleanup. 

Slice cauliflower quarters ½-inch thick. Put in large bowl, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with herbs and/or garlic if using, salt and pepper, and toss to coat.

Divide between baking sheets in single layers.

Roast 20 minutes, remove pans from oven; turn and toss cauliflower. Roast 20 to 30 minutes more, turning and tossing as necessary for even cooking. When tender and edges are very brown, check seasonings and serve.

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