Do you remember eating cauliflower when you were a kid? I do. My favorite was smothered in my mom’s homemade cheddar cheese sauce. Come to think of it, I don’t think I really liked cauliflower; I loved the cheese sauce! Fast forward to my adult years and I have served cauliflower many ways and fondly enough, not smothered in cheese sauce. I’ve roasted cauliflower pieces but never a whole roasted cauliflower – well, come to think of it, not strictly true. Back in 2009 I baked a whole Romanesco cauliflower in a tomato sauce and that was a big hit. There are recipes out there that suggest steaming the veggie first or parboiling it but I feel that’s more work than is needed. The easiest is to chuck it in the oven, dressed with olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and leave the magic to the roasting. When it’s cooked, and this is personal to each individual, remove from oven and divvy it up or slather a sauce over it. If you like the former, use my recipe…it’s the pièce de résistance.
You might stop dead in your tracks when you read there are anchovies in the dressing but fear not. The thought of adding anchovies to anything used to bother me until I took a cooking lesson from my lovely Italian friend, Francesca. She would tell me, “my dear, you haven’t lived or experienced Italian food if you haven’t tasted anchovies!”. That was 16 years ago; I am no longer a stranger to the small fish. The flavor of anchovies shines best when tempered with other foods.
- 1 head of cauliflower
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- extra-virgin olive oil
- parsley sauce –
- ¼ cup parsley, finely chopped
- 1 or 2 cloves garlic (make into a paste – instructions in note)
- 1 to 2 oil packed anchovies, minced
- 1 teaspoon or more of lime or lemon juice
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon dried chili pepper flakes
- ¼ to ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400f (200c). Grab a cooking vessel large enough to hold the cauliflower. Remove any manky-looking leaves and cut the stem off to help balance the vegetable. Place cauliflower in vessel and smother with olive oil (use your hands to massage it all over) followed by a generous grinding of sea salt and black pepper. Move to oven and roast 60 minutes or longer depending on how soft you like it. Allow the cauliflower to rest a few minutes before serving.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, make the sauce. In a small bowl combine all ingredients except olive oil. Slowly add olive oil while stirring until emulsified. Cut chunks of the cauliflower and distribute among plates. Drizzle with sauce and serve.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: To make garlic paste, chop garlic cloves and add a pinch of sea salt. Using the flat side of a knife, push the salt into the garlic. Repeat push and scrape movements back over garlic and within seconds you’ll see how the chopped garlic quickly turns into a paste. Scrape up with the knife and add to the dressing. Enjoy!