Cauliflower. Super-boring. Almost as boring as watching John Boehner and John Kerry face off in a karaoke contest.
Actually, on second consideration, that would be fabulous. Especially if the chosen song is ‘Call Me Maybe’ and they did the dance like the Marines.
Carly Rae Jepsen, the great bipartisan songwriter. She’s Canadian, but that doesn’t matter, eh.
My point is that unless cauliflower is accompanied by a hit song and dance parody, it’s pretty boring. Usually I reserve the award for Most Boring Vegetable for zucchini, but at least zucchini is tasteless and absorbs the flavors around it (zucchini bread, anyone?), therefore making it a pleasantly useful vegetable. Cauliflower is, by nature, a little unpleasant in smell and taste when it’s all by its lonesome. And when you call it a ‘cruciferous vegetable,’ you just make it worse. No one likes the word ‘cruciferous.’
But… it turns out that a makeover with garlic, lemon, and a boat load of olive oil can make cauliflower utterly fabulous. Toss it all in a high-temp oven, add S, P and some pine nuts for a buttery texture, and you have yourself a downright delicious crucifer.
Why go to the trouble to make cauliflower tasty? Because it’s good for you. Really good for you. And it’s in season right now, so you’re probably already seeing its cute little white face at your local farmer’s market saying ‘Try me! I know I’m a little stinky and crunchy like a hippie hitch-hiking to San Francisco, but roast me with some olive oil and garlic and I can bring a smile to your face and protection to your prostate.”
Some people puree it and serve it as a mashed potato substitute, but you know how I feel about that kind of thing, especially if it involves tricking your kids. Your kids will eventually figure it out, and studies show that kids who are tricked are more likely to use drugs as teenagers.
OK, I totally made that up, but please, don’t trick your kids into eating foods they think are other foods. It’s unpatriotic. (Actually, it’s very patriotic judging by all the V8 Frusion and you’ll-never-guess-but-there’s-broccoli-in-your-brownies-muahaha cookbooks on the shelves. Grrr.) Now, if you’re mashing it with cheese and serving it as actual cheesy cauliflower, I fully support that. You know how I feel about cheese.
Cauliflower can be a tasty side, and this is how it’s done. Try it maybe 🙂
- 1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated but not peeled
- 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets (you can also use 2 small heads)
- 4 T olive oil, divided
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ c minced fresh parsley
- 3 T pine nuts, lightly toasted
- 2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and add the garlic cloves. Boil for 15 seconds. Drain and peel the cloves, then cut them in half lengthwise.
- Toss the cauliflower, garlic, 3 T olive oil, 1 t salt and 1 t pepper in a large bowl. Spread the mixture out in a single layer on a large sheet pan. Roast for 20-25 minutes, tossing once or twice, until the cauliflower is tender and the garlic is lightly browned.
- Scrape the cauliflower into a large bowl with the garlic and pan juices. Add the remaining 1 T olive oil, parsley, pine nuts and lemon juice, and a little more salt if you think it needs it (mine usually doesn't). Toss well, and serve hot or warm. (I also sometimes eat it cold for lunch the next day- still great).