The Salt and Stone

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Green Goddess Dipping Sauce is simple, but a little bit special. And it's perfect for drawing people to the table.

I confess I got in my own way deciding what to share this month. Every year when the food issue comes around, I put pressure on myself to try and wow with a complicated and sophisticated recipe. I envision sharing the perfect holiday meal or dish, dazzling you with a recipe you can’t resist.

So I hem and haw, research and try this or that in my kitchen. I bug my kids, shooing them out of my way when they ask to help and fussing over if this or that is tasty enough or fancy enough to make the cut.

And as I’m sure you can probably predict; every last recipe attempt is an utter fail. The steak is dry and over-cooked, the pasta is mushy and needs salt. Don’t even ask how it went trying to poach fish ... and the list goes on, but I’ll spare you. The days slip past me quickly as does my patience and grocery budget.

This month, with a deadline looming over my head and not a lot of ideas running through my mind, I did what I always do when I’m running low on inspiration: I hit the fruit stand. I pulled into McIlrath Fruit Stand for a box of apples and Single Hill IPA, still mulling over what I could possibly share with you this month. I wandered around and stumbled across the most beautiful head of purple cauliflower I’ve ever seen (among a few other lovely additions including delicata squash, Winegars ice cream, Cosmic Crisp apples, the IPA I mentioned and a few more pumpkins to add to my collection at the front door).

I’ve always wanted to roast a whole cauliflower, and that gorgeous purple cauliflower was the perfect reason to give it a go. I referenced a few recipes and settled on working off of the lovely recipe Yotam Ottolenghi provides in his cookbook, “Simple.” The end result is the simplest of recipes, but at the same time delicious, a little bit special and perfect for drawing your people to the table.

Because in the end, my goal isn’t to wow you with my cooking skills, but to inspire you to share a meal with your family and friends. And if I can give you a few cooking tips or recipes that make cooking feel less like a chore and something you feel motivated and encouraged to do, then I’ve done my job.

Whole-roasted cauliflower is the vegetable version of pull-apart bread. It’s rustic, savory and perfectly crispy and salty. Dipped in cool, herby green goddess dressing, it is a special and surprising appetizer perfect for the holidays or for a cozy dinner at home.

1 head large purple or white cauliflower

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons butter

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 cup olive oil mayonnaise

1/4 cup low-fat sour cream

Juice of half a lemon

1 bunch rough chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons fresh basil leaves

2 tablespoons fresh chives

1 clove garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a small baking tray with parchment paper. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Wash the cauliflower, preserving the green leaves, and pat dry with a paper towel. Submerge the cauliflower head-down in the boiling water for 6 minutes. Remove the cauliflower, draining in a colander head-down, for at least 10 minutes.

Place cauliflower on baking sheet, head-up. In the microwave, melt butter for 10 seconds. Combine it with the olive oil and liberally brush the cauliflower with the mixture, making sure to coat it evenly over the entire vegetable. Liberally salt and pepper. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the cauliflower is crispy, brown and very tender.

While the cauliflower roasts, pulse the herbs, mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper in a food processor until the sauce is smooth and bright green. Taste and adjust flavors as necessary, adding a bit more lemon juice for brightness and to thin the sauce, or a touch of salt and pepper to bump up the flavor.

For a non-dairy option, swap the sour cream and mayonnaise for tahini (sesame paste).

To serve, place cauliflower on a tray, cut into “steaks” and serve with the green goddess sauce drizzled over the cauliflower. Or for a fun appetizer, simply break off florets and dip in the sauce.

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