A couple months ago, we were invited for dinner with the Kate/Scott/Hayley/Emma family. We met them when we were still living in the apartment here and they moved into the apartment right across from us. In spite of huge age differences (Hayley is 10, Emma is 7) our kids would play together in the outside hall between our apartments. Neither of my kids is old enough to play unsupervised yet, so I eventually pulled our two lawn chairs off the patio and stuck them next to our front door. After a few weeks, Kate and/or Scott would join me while we watched the kids play after dinner. They had just moved from Michigan for Scott's new job and we became instant friends. I'm pretty sure that Hayley is Genoa's most favorite person on earth. It turned out that we both found houses within a few blocks of each other and Hayley and Emma now go to the same school that Genoa and Alex will attend in a few years.
Anyway, Kate made the most EXCELLENT dinner while we were there. She roasted pork tenderloin, which is pretty much my favorite meat after filet mignon and then I watched as she prepared and roasted a head of cauliflower. To be honest, I kinda fibbed a bit when she asked if I liked cauliflower, because I hadn't eaten it in at least five years and I couldn't remember ever really liking it. But GOOD GRACIOUS, did I love how she made it! It was so good that I don't think a week has gone by since that night that we haven't had roasted cauliflower at least once. I'm now buying two or three heads per week. It's THAT good.
What follows is my recipe, which is only slightly different (read: more caloric) than how Kate made it that night. It's simple and delicious and probably doesn't need the 28 pictures I'm going to post with these instructions, but I really prefer this style of recipe. It leaves nothing to chance. Pioneer Woman has spoiled all of us, hasn't she?!
It's really not more complicated than that. First off, preheat your oven to 400 degrees, then start chopping up that cauliflower.
It's important to chop the cauliflower so it has at least one flat side. This is a dish that roasts on the bottom rack of my oven and the browning mostly takes place on the baking sheet itself, so you want to make sure that you get a lot of surface area touching the bottom of the pan. It's best when the pieces look like this:
Work your way through the entire head and then throw it in your colander.
I wouldn't submerge the cauliflower in water to wash it, only because it tends to be a bit spongy and might get waterlogged. The rinsing works just fine and if you're nervous, you could always buy organic. (I don't, but only because I'm cheap!) I then transfer the cauliflower to some paper towels to let it dry a bit.
Then throw a sheet of tin foil onto a single-layer baking sheet. The dual-layer cookie sheets with the air in them probably won't brown the bottom of the cauliflower, so I'd avoid that type.
Next, throw some butter in a dish. I think I used around two tablespoons. You can use a little or a lot, depending on your taste. In fact, when Kate made this recipe, she used zero butter. I just like its flavor and also because butter browns a bit better than olive oil and I like the end product to be as crispy as possible.
Then melt that butter in the microwave (it took about 20 seconds for mine).
Next, get out your olive oil. My favorite is Trader Joe's Garlic Flavored olive oil, which is perfect for this recipe. Sadly, my Trader Joe's hasn't had it in stock the last four times I've been there. Instead I made my own by sautéing a few minced garlic gloves in butter and then adding them to the bottle with some Italian herbs. It's not as garlic-y as Trader Joe's, but it's a good substitute. (Also a substitute that can apparently breed Botulism and should probably be avoided!!!) I generally buy the extra light flavored olive oil because I HATE olives and that fancy schmancy first-press stuff tastes like, well, OLIVES.
Add a few slugs of your olive oil to the butter. Don't skimp, if you run out, then you have to melt more butter to get your mixture right again.
Then grab your pastry brush. I finally broke down and bought one of these silicone brushes because even though I seemed to purchase them by the dozen, my regular pastry brushes always magically disappeared into Alex's art box. But he's not allowed to touch this one.
Next I coat my baking sheet with a relatively thin layer of the olive oil/butter mixture.
Then get out the salt and pepper. Kosher salt would work even better, but you can use any kind you have.
And throw a decent amount of each evenly onto your greased baking sheet.
Then get out your chopped cauliflower.
And arrange it on your baking sheet, flat sides down.
It's already starting to look delicious.
Next, get out your pastry brush and coat the cauliflower with the butter/olive oil mixture. It's important to pay attention to your starting point, since the cauliflower will begin to absorb the oil immediately and you don't want it to get soggy by dousing it twice.
Beautiful oily cruciferae!
Get out that salt and pepper again.
And generously douse the top of the cauliflower with both.
Then place it on the BOTTOM rack of your oven at 400 degrees for approximately 20 minutes. This is what it looks like after about 15 minutes. Feel free to cook something else (like, I dunno, a tasty meatloaf?) on the top rack to save energy.
If it doesn't seem to be browning on top, you can always put it up on the top rack for a few minutes and/or turn the broiler on. When it's done, it looks like this:
Good grief is it delicious!
See how the bottom gets all brown and yummy!
As you can see from the menus on my sidebar, this is a weekly staple for us now. Sadly, neither of the kids will even TRY this recipe for me, but Dave and I usually finish a head of cauliflower between the two of us in one dinner. There are rarely leftovers, but when there are, this recipe is even good cold. The best part is that it almost fools you into thinking it's a carbohydrate, so I never have to make potatoes or rice when I cook this. It's a perfect side dish. Thanks, Kate!
Enjoy! (And as always, send me your reviews!)