THE BLOG
11/08/2011 04:25 pm ET | Updated Jan 08, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower: Simple & Elegant

Although roasted vegetables take a while to cook, they are unbelievably easy to prepare. You can dress them up with fancy sauces or marinades, but in their simplest form, all you need is a vegetable, a pan, and a bit of oil and/or butter.

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Recently, I came across Michael Ruhlman's roasted cauliflower recipe.  Don't stop reading here if you now want to navigate away from this page as quickly as your fingers will take you.

Whether you have never eaten cauliflower or have tasted it and hated the stuff -- give me (and cauliflower) a chance.  This super easy recipe will change your mind about a rather plain looking vegetable with a bad reputation. 

If you aren't convinced by my entreaties, keep in mind that Michael Ruhlman (in addition to being a great writer, cookbook author and very interesting person) has been a judge on Iron Chef America and The Next Iron Chef.  Now, are you with me (and Michael)?

Cauliflower is cheap too. For a huge head that will easily feed 4 as a main dish and 6-8 as a side, my local groceries now charge $2.50-3.99 for "regular" and $5 for organic varieties. 

This recipe requires about 1 ½ hours to cook, but takes almost no preparation and you don't have to tend it, except for occasionally pouring the butter in the pan back over the cauliflower. When finished, roasted cauliflower looks spectacular and smells divine.  (Pardon my overuse of superlatives.)   It is soft but not mushy, and you can easily cut pieces for individual portions.  I served the cauliflower with salad, good bread, and a small piece of chicken.  For vegetarians, it is a wonderful centerpiece (literally) of a meal, with a salad or soup and a side dish or two.  I thought the leftovers were great too; I mixed them with cold beets and potatoes as a salad, with just a bit of salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar.

Roasted cauliflower 
Michael Ruhlman's recipe with my annotations and explanations.
Servings: 4 as a main dish, 6-8 as a side. 
Total cost: less than $5 for the whole cauliflower/$1.25 per serving

Ingredients

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• 1 head cauliflower
• 1 tablespoon of canola oil
• 6 tablespoons (3 ounces/80 grams) of butter at room temperature (easily spreadable)
• salt

Equipment

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• Oven-proof pan -- The pan cannot have a plastic or wooden handle, as you will put it directly into the oven. I used one that just barely fit the cauliflower. It was a mistake. Use one that allows you to tip it over and get a spoon around the side to baste the cauliflower.
• Cutting board
• Sharp knife
• Measuring spoons (or a soup spoon -- exactness not required)
• Small bowl
• Butter or dinner knife (doesn't need to be sharp) for spreading butter
• Spoon, preferably with a long handle or a brush (for drizzling butter)

For step-by-step directions with pictures, click here.