Now that I’ve revamped my blog, I am occasionally revisiting and updating older posts. This one, from September 2011, contains a recipe that continues to delight me. It is mouthwatering and deserves much better photos than the ones I took back in the day. And so, I re-introduce, Michael Ruhlman’s simple and simply amazing recipe for whole roasted cauliflower.
Just so you can judge for yourself whether my photos have changed, here are two photos from my original post. Lame you’re thinking? I know, but I had to start somewhere.
Anyway, back to the wonderful roasted cauliflower.
I wish I’d known about roasted vegetables when my kids were young. Although they take a while to cook, they are unbelievably easy to prepare. Perfect for throwing into the oven and pulling out to serve as a fabulous main or side dish. You can dress them up with fancy sauces or marinades, but in their simplest form, all you need is a vegetable, a pan, and a bit of oil and/or butter.
Whether you have never eaten cauliflower or have tasted and hated the stuff – give this roasted version a try. This rather plain looking vegetable will transform before your eyes and the aroma coming from your oven will make you glad you took a chance.
Cauliflower is inexpensive too. For a huge head that will easily feed 4 as a main dish and 6-8 as a side, ahead of cauliflower costs less than $5, even for organic varieties. (I checked the 2011 prices in the original post against the prices charged at the time of the 2015 update and they haven’t changed.)
This recipe takes 1 ½ hours to cook, but takes almost no preparation and you don’t have to tend it, except for occasionally pouring the butter in the pan back over the cauliflower.
When it’s done, the roasted cauliflower looks spectacular and smells divine. (Pardon my overuse of superlatives.) It is soft but not mushy, and you can easily cut off pieces for individual portions. I served the cauliflower with salad, good bread, and a small piece of chicken. For vegetarians, it is a wonderful centerpiece (literally) of a meal, with a salad or soup and a side dish or two. I thought the leftovers were great too; I mixed them with cold beets and potatoes as a salad, with just a bit of salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.
This recipe comes from Michael Ruhlman, a noted cookbook author.(If you’re a food TV afficianado, you might know him as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and “The Next Iron Chef.”) He kindly gave me to reprise his recipe. If you don’t know his work, check out his site or his many cookbooks. Some are written in collaboration with noted chefs, while others are solo endeavors. His wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman, is a talented photographer whose work graces a number of his books. My favorite Ruhlman cookbook is Ratio. Without fancy photos or glitz, Ruhlman demonstrates how basic culinary ratios form the bedrock of foods from bread to chocolate sauce.
- 1 whole cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 6 tablespoons (3 ounces) butter at room temperature
- Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
- Cut the stem off the cauliflower as close to the base as possible and remove any leaves. Measure the tablespoon of oil into the small bowl. Rub the oil all over the cauliflower.
- Put the cauliflower in the oven-proof pan.
- Slide the pan into the oven and roast the cauliflower for 45 minutes.
- Remove it from the oven and smear the soft butter over the surface. Sprinkle with a four-finger (good-sized) pinch of salt.
- Roast the cauliflower for another 30 to 45 minutes, basting it several times with the butter, which will have browned. It’s done when you can insert a (small) sharp knife into it and feel no resistance. It should be completely tender.
- You can do rub the oil over the cauliflower with a brush, but it’s easier with your fingers – and much more fun. Didn’t you like finger-painting in kindergarden? As long as you wash your hands afterwards, you’ll enjoy “manhandling” your food. Next thing you know, you’ll be kneading bread!
- In deference to Michael, I left the direction for spreading the butter as “smear”. But to me, it’s “schmear” as they used to say in the NY delis.