Snowed in, for the second day in a row. We’re keeping busy digging the birds out of the 16 inches of snow and trying to keep water un-frozen. (They–the chickens in particular–hate the snow, so it’s pretty hilarious to watch them dubiously eyeing the precipitation and then deciding to stay in.) Inside, other folks might be baking cookies or braising short ribs, but I’m roasting cauliflower. For the third time in a week.
As usual, I am late to the party on this one, but it’s okay, because it’s the kind of party you show up to late and another bottle of wine is being opened—you haven’t missed too much. I read about this whole roasted cauliflower in an issue of Bon Appetit in the airport (magazines are airport treats for me, or things I pilfer from waiting rooms) and tore it out, where it promptly got lost in the bottom of my bag. By the time I next found it, it was creased, illegible, and covered in that weird dusty gunk that is the collateral damage of not cleaning out your purse for six months.
I finally tracked down the recipe online and tested it out with my friend Danielle, and we liked it so much that we tripled the recipe for a dinner party the next night. Poached in a wine-y, peppery broth until tender and then roasted until it crackles, you can slice this cauliflower into wedges and serve as a side, or into thick steaks for a main, with a bright gremolata on top. There is not much that makes me feel better than taking a humble vegetable about which people are pretty ambivalent and turning it into something extraordinary. This is one of those recipes.
Whole roasted cauliflower
Adapted from Bon Appetit
This recipe originally ran with a whipped goat cheese condiment that went alongside it, but I like it as is. The cauliflower goes really well as a side to soak up a pan sauce, like that from a roast chicken.
- 2 1/2 cups dry white wine
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1-2 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 cups water
- 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed and tough stem trimmed, but kept entire
- For serving:
- Olive oil
- Coarse sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Bring the wine, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, pepper flakes, bay leaf, and water to a boil. Add the head of cauliflower and reduce to a simmer, gently poaching the head of cauliflower, for 10-15 minutes, until tender. The cauliflower is ready for roasting when you can easily insert a knife into its center.
- Using a spider skimmer or carefully using a slotted spoon or spatula, remove the cauliflower from the liquid and place on a baking sheet.
- [Don’t throw out your poaching broth! It makes wonderful pasta water or risotto liquid.]
- Roast the cauliflower, turning once, for 30-40 minutes, until it is evenly dark golden all over. (I actually like it a little more than dark golden, but roast to your taste.)
- Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve immediately.