Recipe: Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower

by Cate on February 10, 2014

A super simple cauliflower recipe made in a way that you’ve never seen it before. Indian flavors, two steps, pure deliciousness.

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To say I have a new appreciation for cauliflower would be an understatement. Or, at the very least, an appreciation for turning cauliflower into something completely unique and different than how it originally started out. So when my friend Cathy sent me a recipe for a spicy whole roasted cauliflower, it immediately got added to my list of things to make.

Natch.

Gone are the days when we just had straight up cauliflower smothered in melted cheese. Now we’re turning cauliflower into breadsticks and pizza, risotto and mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and steak. In fact, I even have a cheddar and bacon cauliflower pancake recipe coming soon. I made tonight’s cauliflower recipe on Friday, and it ended up coming in handy this weekend. The basic premise of the recipe is you mix Greek yogurt with a handful of spices, cover the cauliflower with this marinade, and bake it in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. It could not get simpler than that, and beyond the simplicity of the recipe, I love the flexibility of it. Although the spices I used are Indian-influenced, you could mix and match any flavor profile you want. Make a Greek version with some oregano and lemon juice. Or perhaps an Italian version with oregano and basil, with maybe some sun-dried tomatoes thrown in for good measure. I honestly don’t think this recipe can be screwed up.

I made it on a night when I needed something easy that required pretty much no thought and ingredients I had on hand already. I didn’t have a dinner plan ready, and Nick had a dance to go to that night. I made the kids a tray of roasted broccoli (they’re not cauliflower converts … yet), and this for me. Leftover ribs for protein.

Now for the cauliflower story from this weekend… I spent Saturday at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) campus in Hyde Park (more details on that coming later this week), and one of the things we did while we were there was to have a Chopped-style challenge. If you’re not familiar with the Food Network show Chopped, you’re basically handed a basket of ingredients and have to make something amazing with it. I, along with three other team members, was handed a basket that had broccoli, kale, bulgur, lettuce, cauliflower, oranges, and Greek yogurt. All those specific ingredients had to be used to create one main dish and one side dish in an hour, and we could also use any Jones Dairy Farm products we wanted, along with any herbs and spices in the CIA kitchen.

Once I saw the cauliflower and the Greek yogurt, it was a no-brainer, and I took the reins for making the side dish, while the other three team members worked on our main course.

There was a team of CIA chefs in the kitchen during our one hour of cooking time, offering assistance as we needed it, and doing some taste testing along the way. Two of the chefs were also judges, along with two members of Jones Dairy Farm. When Chef Michael came around and took a taste of my marinade (pre-bake), I watched his face for a reaction, and he said “Interesting.” I asked him “Interesting bad or interesting good?” “Just interesting. I can’t say anything else because I’m judging.”

Although I wasn’t worried, I was certainly wondering.

When the cauliflower comes out of the oven, it is a beautiful show-stopper, because it gets a gorgeous color as it roasts, and you don’t typically see a whole roasted cauliflower served that way. As I was cutting it up (because it had to be plated for the judges, and the rest of us to try), Chef Michael came back around. I cut off a small, but pretty floret and handed it to him.

“Wow,” he exclaimed, smiling broadly.

“That is definitely wow good, right?” I asked.

“Yes, for sure, wow good.”

Chef Michael was no longer playing coy with me, and I exhaled.

Chef David came around and I gave him a piece too.

“That totally doesn’t suck at all.”

Chef Michael laughed and said that was as good as a compliment as I was going to get.

I was totally ok with that.

There were four total teams competing in the Chopped challenge, and although our team didn’t win (the uniqueness of scrapple croutons on a salad won the top prize), we received positive feedback and high praise from the judges nonetheless. Chef Michael said that he had worked with an Indian chef in the past, who made something similar to this cauliflower, and it tasted exactly like his.

Score.

The only tasting note was the suggestion of a dipping sauce to accompany it. Which I totally agree with. I actually dipped it into honey mustard the night before when I made it for myself because I had some on hand, even though that was a complete mix of flavors. Using some of the leftover marinade for a little bit of dipping would work as well. The reason the dipping sauce is suggested is because the marinade, once baked on, only covers the tops of the florets, so some of the insides don’t get anything.

However you make it, just do it.

It’s CIA- and Chef Michael-approved, and I don’t think it gets any better than that.

PS And we are totally not talking Jones Dairy Farm tomorrow because I had a momentary lapse of everything sacred. We are most definitely talking about a soon-to-be newly minted six year old tomorrow. Jones Dairy Farm on deck for Wednesday.

Spicy Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Recipe courtesy of Jacquie Bernhardsson

Ingredients
1 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 head cauliflower
1-1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1 lime, zested and juiced (I used orange for the CIA challenge)
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat over to 400 and lightly grease a small baking sheets with vegetable oil. Set aside.

Trim the base of the cauliflower to remove any green leaves and the woody stem.

In a medium bowl, combine the yogurt with the lime zest and juice, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, curry powder, salt, and pepper.

Dunk the cauliflower into the bowl and use a brush or your hands to smear the marinade evenly over the surface. (Excess marinade can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to three days and used with meat, fish, or other veggies).

Place the cauliflower on the prepared baking sheet and roast until the surface is dry and lightly browned, about 30-40 minutes. The marinade will make a crust on the surface of the cauliflower.

Let it cool about ten minutes before cutting.

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