What's On the Side: Roasted Cauliflower

I was listening to The Splendid Table podcast while walking the dogs the other day, and the first segment of the show featured a conversation between host Lynn Rossetto Kasper and Ted Allen, host of Food Network's Chopped. The topic of their conversation was sources of mealtime inspiration and how to avoid getting into food ruts. Ted Allen provided a challenge to listeners: "Pick a vegetable that you think you hate, or that you do hate, and try to conquer it."

Personally, I am not a fan of cauliflower. I despise it raw (it's a waste of space in a platter of raw veggies and dip, in my opinion, which apparently I've said before) and cooked cauliflower isn't much better. I made a cauliflower pizza crust once, and the smell from steaming the cauliflower was horrendous. That definitely did not help with my coming to peace with this cruciferous vegetable.

Enter roasting. In my experience, roasting is the one technique that really helps to save the day when it comes to flavor and texture. A simple olive oil dressing (including the flavors of garlic, lemon, salt, pepper, and cumin) adds an additional layer of flavor to an otherwise bland vegetable. Roasting gives the cauliflower a lovely caramelization and brings out the vegetable's sweetness. The great thing about roasting is that just by switching out the seasonings, you can create a different flavor profile every time. Since I was also serving black bean enchiladas for dinner, I opted to use cumin in my roasted cauliflower side dish, but curry, Italian seasonings, or herbes de Provence would all be lovely options, too.

Are there any vegetables that you once hated but now can't get enough of? Do share!

Roasted Cauliflower (printer-friendly version)
makes 2-4 servings

5-6 cups cauliflower florets (from 1 medium cauliflower)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine together the cauliflower florets, olive oil, sliced garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and cumin. Stir or toss to combine.
3. Spread the cauliflower onto the prepped baking sheet in a single layer.
4. Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to ensure even roasting.

(adapted from this Emeril Lagasse recipe)