Meet my family’s current obsession: crispy caramelized cauliflower. This cauliflower is altogether different from the steamed or raw stuff which I’ve never liked…. that can by soggy and chalky and just kind of generally unappealing. Drenched in a delicious sauce maybe, just maybe. But roasting it to the point that you think you might be overdoing it is altogether different. The high heat coaxes out a divine crunch around the edges, and a meltingly, mellow, nutty and slightly sweet interior. It’s soft enough to be a perfect finger food for a teething baby while having a satisfying salty, crispyness that reminds me of eating potato chips. And anything that reminds one of a potato chip is never a bad thing!
I admit that I stole this one from Simran who made this when I stopped by for lunch one day. Simran being Simran, makes hers with a blast of spice and sometimes a generous amount of red onion caramelized alongside. I hope she shares her version with all of us (hint hint) because it’s absolutely delicious. I tend to make mine more simply seasoned with salt (at the end, that’s the secret) and sometimes a sprinkling of garlic powder. If I want to add another vegetable, say carrots, I roast the vegetables on separate trays so we can make sure each is just how we like it. I know people go on about broccoli made this way but I’ve had mixed results. Some pieces are yummy and others go off the deep end and get dry and bitter — and it’s possible that burned broccoli might even be lower down on my list than raw cauliflower.
That my family eats and requests crispy cauliflower on a regular basis is the highest possible recommendation that I can give and a funny one given family doesn’t even like cauliflower. Luca and I have even been known to battle over who gets the last piece. Common decency usually deters me from swiping food from a sweet, innocent preschooler, but in this case I would have to give it some serious consideration.
If you’re on the fence about cauliflower you should try this and see if it does anything to change your mind. The other recipe you might try is Paul Bertoli’s cauliflower soup which is super velvety and absolutely genius in in its simplicity.
- Heat your oven to 450. Lightly coat the bottom of a baking dish or sheet pan with olive oil and pop it in to preheat with the oven.
- The fresher and more blemish-free the cauliflower, the better (but this will work with that head of cauliflower that got lost in your vegetable drawer too). Separate the florets and get rid of the tough core. I like to slice medium to large florets in halves or thirds because a flat edge means more contact with the roasting pan and more caramelization. Wash and dry the pieces well. Drying the cauliflower is critical to achieving maximum crispyness, so take the time to really pat it down. Resist your urge to season it now. Salt draws out the moisture and will inhibit caramelization so wait until the end.
- When your oven is hot, pop the cauliflower into the pan. Hopefully you will hear a little sizzle as it hits the hot surface. Give the top of the cauliflower a light drizzle of olive oil and then let it do it’s magic.
- Let it roast for 25 minutes and then check it every 5-10 minutes, tossing a few times until it’s deeply golden around the edges and even dark brown in some places. The cauliflower wont dry out, so you can give it much more color than a lot of other vegetables.
- When it’s gorgeously browned, season with salt (garlic powder if you like) and toss. Eat right away. While good after it has cooled and even leftover, it loses it’s magical crispiness pretty quickly.