Just as cauliflower comes in more than just beige, it also lends itself to many ways of cooking it including roasting. This post will give you all the inspiration you need to learn how to cook cauliflower!
I receive many texts and messages about cooking techniques but one of the most common is about how to cook cauliflower. My first suggestion is almost always to roast it – it’s an easy and delicious preparation.I first wrote about roasting vegetables in late September 2010 as I was cooking my way through a heat wave. But now, while we ready ourselves for the chilly days of fall and winter, it seems like a good time to learn to cook cauliflower by firing up that oven and enjoying the ambient heat and delicious results.
How to Cook Cauliflower: Inspiration from the Farmer’s Market
On a visit to the farmer’s market, I realized not everyone thinks of popping their cauliflower in the oven. A woman was staring at the gorgeous cruciferous heads in green, purple, and off white, apparently pondering her purchase. So I struck up a conversation and she asked me how to cook cauliflower. I suggested roasting and she looked at me a bit surprised. “Really? What do you flavor them with and how long do they need to cook?”
How long should they cook?
I start by cutting the heads into florets. Then I pop them on a parchment-lined pan (a huge timesaver for clean-up), drizzle them with olive oil, salt and pepper. Then I place them in the oven on 400 degrees convect roast or 425 degrees regular bake. About 15 minutes later they will be ready – a bit crunchy on the outside, just tender on the inside, and completely devoured by the end of dinner. When I take them out of the oven, I drizzle them with meyer lemon juice. Then we usually grab them straight from the parchment to add to our dinner plates.
How should I flavor my cauliflower?
Other flavor choices could be za’atar – a middle-eastern spice blend – which tastes glorious on cauliflower. Parmesan cheese added before or after roasting marries beautifully with the lemon juice. Or how about a bit of that pistachio dust from the cookbook RIPE by Cheryl Sternman Rule? You can also add other veggies that will cook in similar time frames such as broccoli or carrots. Think about what your main course is, what’s in your veggie and spice drawer and just draw inspiration from those elements. But honestly, the olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon juice will work with almost any main course and bring out the best of the cauliflower every time.
Don’t forget roasted cauliflower when preparing your holiday dinner menus – it makes a nice side dish with so many proteins and pairs so well with other vegetables.
What’s your favorite cauliflower preparation? Have you ever roasted it? Have you ever tried the other colors and do they taste the same to you as white? Leave a comment below – let’s talk about cauliflower!
How to Cook Cauliflower – Roast your Way to Success
- 1 large head cauliflower or 2 small
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- meyer lemon juice from 1/2 medium lemon optional or just use regular lemons
- Preheat the oven to 400 convection roast (if you have this setting) or 425 degrees regular cook.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets - relatively the same size. Spread them on a parchment-lined sheet pan.
- Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil all over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste (about 1 tsp each) then mix the florets around a bit to be sure they are evenly coated with the oil and salt and pepper.
- Cook for about 10 - 12 minutes, open the oven door, and check for tenderness with a fork and move them about with some tongs. Cook for about 5 - 8 minutes more depending on how hot your oven is and how large you cut the florets.
- Remove from oven when crisp but tender when pierced with a fork or you take a bite.
- Drizzle all over with lemon juice immediately, then serve piping hot or let sit until the rest of the meal is ready. They are delicious even if cooled down a bit.