Friday, January 29, 2010

Roasted cauliflower with sherry vinaigrette

While I'd love to spend my days eating pork chops and pasta, sometimes restraint is in order. For those of us prone to indulgence but without the metabolism of a hummingbird, a little vanity can be an excellent motivating factor. So while I will love sugar, butter, cream, and bacon until I drop dead (and given that list, the day may not be far off), I do not like the idea of buying new clothes in bigger sizes. So, I try to find some balance with salads, light soups, and occasionally with a vegetable mish mash that adds up to a whole dinner.

For example, the other night, on the heels of a few particularly hedonistic days, I roasted up some asparagus and drizzled it with lemon juice, and sauteed cubed butternut squash with a little curry. Both turned out just fine, but the star of this odd little dinner turned out to be roasted cauliflower with sherry vinaigrette.

As a child, I found cauliflower pale, hideous, and utterly lacking in flavor. In typical 1970's style, my dad would sometimes bake it in a Corningware with grated cheddar cheese over it. In retrospect, this method flirted with the possibility of a gratin--had he added some cream and a fresh herb, or covered it with crunchy golden bread crumbs, perhaps I would have liked it better. Instead, it emerged just as white and lifeless as it went in, only now covered in orange Tillamook splotches. Cauliflower was among the many things I vowed not eat once I grew up, along with Brussels sprouts, beets, and asparagus.

Of course, things change, including your taste buds. Let's not forget that I once gagged at the smell of my dad's beer (although in honesty, I'm not sure to this day I could toss back a can of his Budweiser--I'm a Sierra Nevada girl). I now eat Brussels sprouts, beets, and asparagus with abandon. And I've even grown to like cauliflower.

In mulling over what to do with the massive cauliflower that arrived in our produce box the other day, a recipe in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian piqued my interest. The cauliflower is roasted until carmelized and slightly sweet, then dressed with a sherry vinaigrette and tossed with raisins and parsley. The result is a pleasurable contrast of tart and sweet against a savory background. Next time, I would consider swapping dried cranberries for the raisins, and adding toasted pine nuts or walnuts--I think they would add fabulous texture and crunch. A little crumbled goat or blue cheese would not be out of place and would lend a luxurious element to the dish. And I'm certain you could substitute any number of fresh herbs for the parsley with excellent results. But the recipe is also wonderful just as is.

Roasted Cauliflower with Raisins and Vinaigrette

(adapted from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into bite-sized florets
1/2 c. olive oil
2 T. sherry or balsamic vinegar (I like vinaigrette more acidic so added more vinegar)
1/2 c. raisins
1/2 chopped parsley

Preheat oven to 400.

On a large baking sheet, toss cauliflower with 3 T. olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine remaining oil with vinegar and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and toss with 2 T. vinaigrette. Roast for another 15 minutes, or until it's cooked to your liking.

Remove from the oven and let cool slightly. Then transfer to a bowl and right before serving, toss with remaining vinaigrette (I did not use all of it), raisins, parsley, and more salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. My, what a healthy delicious meal! You are so right about a hummingbird's metabolism ~ which I definitely don't have. So, I will follow your lead and prepare a good healthy meal of flavorful vegetables and imagine I am dinning on steak & Foie gras, while I flap my arms like a hummingbird.

    Many thanks for the creative ideas...

  2. Heh, I've had a few of those days recently myself. That's why I had a salad for dinner and am having another one for lunch.

    The cauliflower looks fantastic, I've been meaning to try it roasted but haven't managed to get around to it. So many recipes...

  3. Great recipe for cauliflower. I felt the same as a child, and I must confess, I'm still not crazy about it. Cauliflower has to be prepared with FLAVOR to be enjoyed. At least by me! I'm going to give this a try, it sounds right up my alley.
    I'm a Fat Tire girl myself. Never tried Sierra Nevada though, it is next on my list.

  4. I am with you on everything except beets.

    I love the sound of these... got em bookmarked to try

  5. Just found your blog and its amazing! SOOO many yummy things :)
    Can't wait to browse around!
    -Mini Baker

  6. I actually loved cauliflower all my life, even as a kid! (I know, I was a weird vegetable-eating child.) Roasted cauliflower is the bomb, and the sherry vinaigrette sounds like a nice contrast. I'm going to try it this weekend!

  7. I want cauliflower in my produce box!

  8. Perfect timing! I just picked up a huge cauliflower, half of which I need for a soup I'm making this weekend. Now I know what to do with the other half!

  9. I love roasted cauliflower, how it gets caramelized till almost burnt. I love those extra crispy edges.

  10. Yum! Looks great! Now I'm hoping for cauliflower in next week's CSA, although I always liked it as a kid.

    And I completely agree about not wanting to buy clothes in bigger sizes. (New clothes, yes, bigger sizes, no.) ;)

  11. What a perfect idea. Cauliflower and vinaigrette. My favorite part, though, is the fact that it's roasted till it gets those magnificent brown bits on it. YUM.

  12. George: a good plate of veggies, while not quite as satisfying as steak and foie gras, at least makes you feel virtuous enough to enjoy said steak & foie gras the next time around!

    Bob: we eat a lot of salads too, though you'd never know it from this blog...

    Pam: Mmm, Fat Tire. Like that too!

    A Year on the Grill: Took me awhile to come around to beets too.

    Mini Baker: thanks!

    Ben: Let me know what you think.

    Cee: hope you get one!

    Apples and Butter: Mm, cauliflower soup--look forward to your post on that! :)

    Food Gal: I agree, the crispy bits are the best part.

    croquecamille: vanity can definitely be a good motivating factor!

    Kate: The browned bits are where all the flavor is!

  13. Haha - the metabolism of a hummingbird! Oh, how I wish I had that as well....

    I love roasted cauliflower, too - I swear it multiplies the flavor. Paprika compliments it well, but I am definitely trying this next time. I'm not so sure about the raisins, but I'm willing to try it. Thanks for the recipe!

  14. What a wonderful way to eat cauliflower! I like it mashed, too! I love how it takes on the flavor its seasoned with. I actually really like the idea of the raisins in there.

  15. Roasted cauliflower is so good! Almost nutty, don't you think? Either way, far from white and lifeless.

    And I'm with you, I like a more vinegar in my vinaigrettes than the classic ratios suggest.

  16. That certainly looks fantastic Hungry Dog - I'll definitely give roasted cauli a try. Don't think I had problems with cauliflower as a kid - I think because it was frequently served fried (stir fried or with curry powder) so it didn't smell funny or disitegrate into mush. But I did have issues with lot of other things including celery, spring onions, capsicum and broccoli. All of which I am ok with now - except maybe the brocolli :)

  17. ah, to have the metabolism of a hummingbird. :)
    frankly, raw cauliflower is nauseating to me, but when the suckers get roasted, those florets become absolutely delicious. your vinaigrette will help it along quite nicely!

  18. nightowlcef: I hear you on the raisins--I'm generally not a big fan either. That's why next time I might try cranberries. The dried fruit works in this recipe though, whatever you choose.

    Chef Aimee: mashed! What a great idea!

    Brittany: thanks for stopping by! And I agree, cauliflower gets almost nutty...delicious!

    shaz: Not much for broccoli, eh? Interesting!

    grace: Yeah, raw cauliflower is inedible, I agree. Roasting makes all the difference!

  19. Cauliflower seems to be coming into its own. Lots of soup recipes lately and now your roasted recipe. I tried this with broccoli- hated it. But tried it with cauliflower and loved it. Your additions make it even more delicious- I'm adding those next time I make it. Love the idea of pine nuts and cranberries. I think roasting most veggies (even tomatoes) gives them such depth of flavor.
    Raw cauliflower gives me a major tummyache.

  20. I love roasted cauliflower, never had it with dried fruits... the combination sounds very intriguing! I made it this weekend in a very different flavor profile, fish sauce vinaigrette, tossed with pickled daikon and ginger scallion sauce.

  21. Oh, I love roasted vegetables. The nutty, earthy flavor they take on is amazing. This sounds really good!!

  22. Barbara: I'm with you--though I have not roasted broccoli, for some reason it does not appeal to me as much as roasted cauliflower. I'm looking forward to trying some of the additions.

    foodhoe: your cauliflower dish sounds amazing! It really can take so many flavors--I'm sure yours was incredible.

    oneordinaryday: Something magic happens in the oven!

  23. Yum yum . . I recently fell in love with roasted cauliflower too. There's one sitting in my fridge as we speak! I love drizzling a bit of truffle oil on top - divine! I like how the parsley adds color to the photo. I was having so much trouble making my cauliflower photos look scrumptious, even though they were!