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Call it a meal

We have reached the point in winter, or spring, or whatever it is, when even I am tired of making, eating, and talking about soup. I’ve been meaning to make a batch of vegetable and pearl barley soup for the past week, and I even forced myself to chop up everything the other night before bed, thinking it would inspire me to get on it the next morning, but, eh. Eh. I’d rather do what I did twice last week: throw a cauliflower in the oven, eat the whole pan, and call it a meal.

Roasted cauliflower! Old news! You know how to roast cauliflower. I know how to roast cauliflower. But here I am, talking up roasted cauliflower, because this particular version has become - just as Bon Appétit said it would - my new go-to. The recipe comes from the "BA Arsenal" section of the February 2013 issue, and it’s hardly even a recipe (which is, more and more, my favorite kind of recipe). You’ll probably have it memorized after the first read-through. And I’ll bet you have everything in the house already - except maybe the cauliflower, and that’s easy enough to remedy.

When I roast cauliflower, I usually just, you know, roast it: sliced cauliflower, olive oil, salt, boom. But Allie Lewis Clapp, food editor of Bon Appétit, apparently swears by the combination of cauliflower and onion, the former caramelized and the latter "just-this-side-of-burnt." (Color = flavor! Assuming, of course, that you don’t go too far and actually burn the onions, which I did once; see photo below.) To the cauliflower and onion, she suggests that you add a few sprigs of thyme and a few whole, unpeeled cloves of garlic, all of it slicked with some olive oil. Then you chuck it in a hot, hot oven, and after barely half an hour, the cauliflower winds up velvety, meaty, even rich, and the onions relax and soften into sweetness, and the garlic is tender enough to spread on toast, and a dark, savory, somewhat bewitching smell has filled your kitchen - or your entire house, if you’re me and your house is small and the exhaust fan doesn’t really work, even though it roars like the engine of a semi scaling a mountain pass. Then you grate some Parmesan over the whole pan, slide it back into the oven, and pull it out when the cheese has melted and crisped into crisp, lacy, frico-like webs and shards.

At this point, you could divide it between a couple of bowls, put a fried egg on top of each, and call it lunch. You could also divide it between four plates and call it a side dish.  You could toss it with pasta, probably, though I haven’t tried it, and serve it with more Parmesan. Or you could just eat it, period, which is what I’ve been doing. If you have any leftovers, they’re good at any temperature - even cold, eaten straight from a Mason jar while sitting in your car outside the pottery studio after class.

Happy weekend.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted from Bon Appétit and Allie Lewis Clapp

One word of caution: don’t slice the onions too thinly here, or they’ll be more likely to burn.  I’d aim for ½-inch-thick slices, if I were you.

1 head cauliflower, trimmed
1 medium onion, sliced
4 thyme sprigs
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmesan or Grana Padano, for grating

Preheat the oven to 425°F, and line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment.

Place the cauliflower on a cutting board, and slice it top-down into roughly 1/3-inch slices. Some of the slices will crumble, and that’s fine. Scoop all of the cauliflower into a large bowl, and add the onion, thyme, garlic, and olive oil. Toss well. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Arrange the mixture in a single layer on the prepared sheet pan. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is mostly tender, golden brown, and caramelized at the edges, 25-30 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven, and grate a generous amount of Parmesan over the vegetables. (The original recipe calls for ½ cup, but I didn’t measure mine; I just eyeballed it.) Return the pan to the oven, and continue to roast for another 5 or 10 minutes. You’re basically cooking it to eye: you want the cauliflower to be nicely caramelized, but you don’t want the onions to burn.

Serve hot or at room temperature.

Yield: 2 to 4 servings


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, that sounds lovely! I've tried it enough times, but your description makes me want to make it just this minute.


8:18 PM, March 21, 2014  
Anonymous Liz said...

I'm SO addicted to roast cauliflower this winter! So much so that I bought seeds. I have a feeling this will go badly, but I care not. NOM.

9:46 PM, March 21, 2014  
Blogger Ileana said...

Yes! I love roasted cauliflower. And yes to cauli + caramelized onions. I made a gratin with both recently and it was wonderful.

9:51 PM, March 21, 2014  
Blogger Victoria said...

fave dish for me too - yummo

12:25 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Robyn said...

I'll happily call it dinner...

1:15 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just cooked this for dinner and wow, it's mind bogglingly good. How much cauliflower can one eat in a sitting? I plan to make it again tomorrow...

2:04 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Brian Gardunia said...

I always steamed mine first. I will try.

6:57 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Susan B. said...

We call this cauliflower candy in our house. The danger is taking out of the oven too soon before the rest of dinner is ready and it's just there, on the counter, in easy reach. Before you know it, it's half gone.

We love it plain or on pasta, but I recently piled it on top of Heidi Swanson's red lentil brown rice soup for dinner and that is my new favorite.

Yesterday when I went to stock up on veggies for the weekend, orange and purple cauliflowers were 99 cents each. Fortunately, I have a container of the red lentil soup in my freezer!

7:11 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Victoria said...

I buy a cauliflower once a week, and I always have onions in the house so this will be a good one to try. If you have never made John Besh's Puréed Cauliflower with a dot of curry powder in it, it's worth trying.

7:36 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger noapostrophe said...

I do the same thing - roast a cauliflower and eat the whole pan! I just toss the florets with olive oil and a very healthy amount of garam masala. The sweet and spicy flavors go so well with the caramelized cauliflower and the kitchen smells divine.

8:54 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Margarita Larrazabal said...

Darn it! I just roasted cauliflower yesterday but didn't read this post until today. It is good on it's own but can already imagine the height it could reach when roasted with onions.

9:07 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Liza in Ann Arbor said...

I too discovered this recipe this winter on a BA search and have made it several times. Such an easy go to. I'm still having trouble with the onions burning. Last time I added them 20 minutes after the cauliflower and they still burned. Maybe I'm slicing them too thinly. Also, since I never have fresh thyme in the winter I've been been doing a sprinkling of Herbes de Provence instead. I'm determined to try that whole roasted cauliflower with whipped goat cheese situation that keeps coming up on the BA search as well.

9:26 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Marios @ Betterwithlemon.com said...

Nothing beats your own recipe for roasted cauliflower Molly! I've been making the recipe from your first book for years now. The lime vinaigrette (I reduce the salsa verde to a vinaigrette) is the best thing to happen to cauliflower since, well, forever.

9:45 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a roasted cauliflower dish, but mine has capers instead of onions -- delicious!

9:59 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Jean said...

Seems like a few capers at the end might not be amiss . . . .

10:16 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Mikelanne said...

This is perfect! I have a spare head in my fridge.

I love these kinds of recipes. Keep 'rm coming!

11:02 AM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous molly said...

I'm pretty sure Not Even a Recipes are the only kind of recipes to make, post-children.

(And if an entire sheet pan of roasted brassicas does not equal a meal, I apparently have hardly eaten, these past 13 years.)

11:54 AM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Justine said...

I feel the same about soup. I've cooked all the soup, let's move on. And yes! I love roasted cauliflower even better than broccoli. Love this dish mixed in pasta, with a little butter (because why not) and red pepper flakes to keep it from looking so uniform in color. I would eat it every night in the winter.

I'm reading your book now, and it is lovely. I adore the notion of food as a family legacy, the very best heirloom. I made your dad's potato salad this weekend. Ranch and caraway, genius!

12:06 PM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Liza said...

I love roasted cauliflower. Saw this in Bon Appetit too. Thanks for the reminder.

12:12 PM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous rox said...

This is the BEST could eat it every week and of course have put my own touch on it like we all do.
I add broccoli, use shallots (quartered length wise) instead of onions, tons of fresh thyme and toss with fresh garlic when I add the parmesan so it doesn't have that burnt taste.
Husband loves it, pass it on to the son and his fiancé and the mother calls it divine! Voila xo

12:59 PM, March 22, 2014  
OpenID Mary said...

I'm addicted to roasted cauliflower (like, "oops, I just ate a whole head of cauliflower in one sitting" addicted). Looking forward to trying this version. It sounds delicious!

2:32 PM, March 22, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just made this today and ate half the pan before dinner!! So darn good and the addition of onions to the cauliflower is a must! Thanks Molly, I love your recipes and of course the pictures of June.

3:55 PM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Holli Moncrieff said...

I've been eating this since the summer. It's an awesome recipe. I'm not a fan of onions, so I skip them, and it's STILL awesome.

8:07 PM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Coblusky said...

Molly, I made Vegetable Barley soup for you! YUM, on this snowy day. Easy and delicious. Roasted Cauliflower is added for one of this week's dinners.

9:06 PM, March 22, 2014  
Blogger Emily said...

That sounds divine! Thank you :-) Also, I have a need to take pottery classes now. Your work is lovely!

8:09 AM, March 23, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love the no-recipe recipe. Who has time for actual read them through to the end recipes, or the inclination. With cake, yes. But not cauliflower. I love the idea of onions, unpeeled garlic and just this side of burnt everything. Lovely. Sophie

8:15 AM, March 23, 2014  
Anonymous Food from Michelle's kitchen said...

Heh, as your soup making season comes to an end, here in oz, ours is just beginning. I'm dreaming about roasted cauliflower soup with cheesy baguette...

4:34 PM, March 23, 2014  
Anonymous burnttoast said...

Your book (first book I should say!) taught me the addictive edibility of roasted cauliflower. This recipe sounds great as well. But I made fresh asparagus/pea soup with goat cheese today, and it was awesome. Actually, would go with roasted cauliflower! maybe book 3 could be Not Even a Recipe cookbook.

5:20 PM, March 23, 2014  
Blogger food goddess said...

NIce! Coming from the Philippines, it's always refreshing to make your recipes sans the rice. Although purple mountain rice with this is just as good as pasta!
BTW, am addicted to your toasted oatmeal!!!

5:59 PM, March 23, 2014  
Blogger Karen from CT said...

Just saw a recipe today for lemon, garlic and cauliflower hummus. It called for steamed cauliflower but I think I will roast it and then pray I don't finish it before I can finish the recipe!

7:30 PM, March 23, 2014  
Blogger Mavis said...

Just thinking of it have me drools

7:39 PM, March 23, 2014  
Anonymous Resting Roost said...

Oh I LOVE cauliflower! I must give this a try. I have a whole head in the fridge right now. Maybe dinner tonight? Thank you!

5:43 AM, March 24, 2014  
Blogger Amy said...

This was a big hit at my dinner party last night, thank you for sharing!

7:55 AM, March 24, 2014  
Anonymous Jeff Parker said...

I have spent the winter exploring all the ramen shops in LA... like you and soup, it's time to move on. I have a beautiful head of cauliflower I bought yesterday at the farmer's market. It's approaching lunchtime... guess what I'm having for lunch with a couple 3 minutes eggs?! Thanks for the post. Cheers - Jeff

10:34 AM, March 24, 2014  
Anonymous Mari @ Oh, Sweet & Savory said...

I have been missing out for years on cauliflower: I've only recently developed a liking for it, if you can believe it! Can't wait to start making it on my own ... starting with this recipe!

10:57 AM, March 24, 2014  
Anonymous Ena said...

I made this gorgeous cauliflower along with falafel-spiced meatballs and some spinach for Sunday lunch and the cauliflower was the absolute best part! Loved it so, so much.

12:09 PM, March 24, 2014  
Blogger Linzleh said...

I just read your book, A Homemade Life, it's a very touching journal. I made the Roast Eggplant Ratatouille last night & the fam loved it. I posted a link to your recipes in my blog, http://dustoffurthinkin.blogspot.com/and mentioned your book/blog. I'm a new follower to Orangette and enjoy it greatly.

2:52 PM, March 24, 2014  
Anonymous sheila Johnson said...

I made this last night and it was a hit. i even forgot to add the parmesan and it was still so yummy and rich with flavor. Next time I'll add the cheese to give it a try. thanks for sharing this one! I love recipes that take so little prep and end up being so "gourmet".

2:11 AM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous Barbie said...

roast cauli with tahini sauce is awesome: tahini, yoghurt, mayo, garlic, lemon juice. Even better with a salad of freekeh with currants, roasted chopped almonds, parsley, red onion marinated in lemon juice, olive oil...

4:59 AM, March 25, 2014  
Blogger Alice Q. Foodie said...

I am just catching up on your blog, and I have to say - I have been eating a ton of cauliflower lately and (finally!) signed up for pottery lessons weeks ago - they start next sunday and I cannot WAIT. Looking forward to the new book!!

8:56 AM, March 25, 2014  
Blogger Sara said...

Mmmm I want this now. Also, did you see that apparently there is a new fad for you vinegar-lovers? Sorry, I have started to develop some taste for pickles lately, but to me "drinking vinegar" sounds like a punishment. :) http://everybodylikessandwiches.com/2014/03/drinking-vinegars-sour-cherry-lime-shrub-strawberry-rhubarb-black-pepper-shrub/

11:22 AM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous erinn said...

That looks a whole lot like what we had for dinner last night. I made a really good chimichurri to top it from eating well. so good and it was even a huge hit with ALL four kids.

1:01 PM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous Shireen said...

We had this tonight and tossed it with pasta shells and sliced soppresatta. It's great cooking something the kid enjoys without having to tone it down for the adults. Very satisfying! Thanks!

8:34 PM, March 25, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm another one who's been eating cauliflower for dinner. I usually put it in a skillet with oil and salt & pepper and roast uncovered for about 20-25 minutes until it gets golden and then cover or add cream and cover and let it cook for an additional 15 minutes or so. This allows the cauliflower to steam and get soft, but it will still have those crispy parts. The cream version is inspired by your Brussels sprout recipe. Sometimes I cook off the remaining cream on the stove. Really delicious!

10:24 AM, March 26, 2014  
Blogger Christine said...

I've not tried adding the parmesan, which makes me think my whole family is suffering — from your lovely description. Let's try this again.

1:17 PM, March 26, 2014  
Anonymous morganmaui said...

Is there a reason behind the parchment? Does it help with coloring?

Also, have you tried this WHOLE cauliflower emthod?


1:55 PM, March 26, 2014  
Blogger Molly said...

morganmaui, the parchment makes clean-up easier! And re: roasting cauliflower whole, I've only done it this way, but it's wonderful.

2:13 PM, March 26, 2014  
Blogger Regina said...

Just made this and topped with Farm fresh fried eggs with a side of chorizo, it was amazing and we will be making it on the regular basis.

4:51 PM, March 26, 2014  
Blogger Woodinville Wine Country said...

Sounds and looks amazing and healthy! Who knew cauliflower could be so versatile?

7:10 PM, March 26, 2014  
Blogger Theresa said...

A beautiful blog. I am glad I found it.

12:39 AM, March 27, 2014  
OpenID marymccloskey said...

What a lovely blog!

8:15 AM, March 27, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Molly, I'll never forget when, years ago--around 2007--I told you my daughter was spending a semester in Paris and you gave me suggestions for places to go, eat at. etc. It was so kind of you, so, thanks again! Anyway, my favorite way to use roasted cauliflower is to roast it with some harissa paste and then toss it with preserved lemon and halved green Greek olives.

8:57 AM, March 27, 2014  
Blogger Emily said...

Yes, adding onion to roasted cauliflower is magic! I like to toss the cauliflower in a combination of pureed pumpkin, oil and a dash of curry powder. Couldn't be easier and, so yum.

6:18 PM, March 27, 2014  
Anonymous Lauren said...

We made this last night Molly, and it was delicious.
I threw a few spoonfuls of salty capers on top when the cauliflower went in for its second grilling with the grans padano.
Served it with the fried egg and some red quinoa I had in the cupboard. Really great, thank you.

1:11 AM, March 28, 2014  
Blogger Mary Jo said...

I made this a few weeks ago...it's SO GOOD! and so easy, woohoo. my husband said "how did you make cauliflower taste good", yep

8:32 PM, March 29, 2014  
Blogger syrahsuzie said...

Roasted cauliflower and onions is a regular on our table - we tend to add some feta and pine nuts and lemon juice to balance all the lovely olive oil and that definitely counts as dinner at our place.

1:31 PM, March 30, 2014  
Blogger Garden Goddess said...

48228468 865Oooohhhh Molly! I just made this for our 7th wedding anniversary dinner. So delicious! Thank you... and I'm bummed that I won't see you when you in SF on your tour. Maybe I will drive up to Portland and catch you there!

7:11 PM, March 31, 2014  
Anonymous Susan said...

Molly, thank you so much for this. It was delicious. You say roasted cauliflower is old news, but even though I love cauliflower - especially raw with hummus, I'd never thought of roasting it. I live in Algeria, where the range of vegetables is a bit limited so it's great to find a new way with something that is readily available!

11:26 PM, March 31, 2014  
Blogger Kelly said...

I've been loving roasted cauliflower this year and love it in this version. Thanks! The onions add a nice sweetness to it. Looking forward to seeing you in BK on your tour. Congratulations!!!

12:56 PM, April 01, 2014  
Anonymous Paula said...

No I did not know how to roast a cauliflower, now I do, so thankyou!

11:25 PM, April 01, 2014  
Anonymous Kelly said...

Wow! This looks absolutely fantastic. Caramelized onions and cauliflower sound like a perfect match. Can't wait to try it.

8:26 AM, April 02, 2014  
Blogger Woodinville Wine Country said...

Looks like someone from the Tampa Bay times also likes cauliflower:


The cauliflower & caramelized onion gratin sounds yummy and a bit healthier than a normal potato gratin!

12:33 AM, April 03, 2014  
Blogger Jill said...

This was wonderful! And the tip about cutting the onions in 1/2" strips was spot on.

7:08 PM, April 05, 2014  
Blogger Paula Capps said...

This sounds like a delish variation on my own go-to, and I will be trying it as I love roasted onions. My version: whisk together balsamic and olive oil, coat the sliced cauliflower, and roast on tin foil lining the pan -- finish off with the parmesan under the broiler. Despite better cooks' warnings about not putting balsamic to high heat, it turns out great -- the balsamic and olive oil create their own reduction and after I plate the cauliflower, I use the foil to capture every last drizzle of the reduction back atop the cauliflower.

On a similar note, I roast broccoli but only in olive oil. After it's browned but not too brown (can burn and turn ashy), I squeeze lemon liberally over it, toss on as many toasted pine nuts as I'm in the mood for, and cover the whole thing (again on tin foil) with parmesan and toast under the broiler. IT's never there long enough to harm the lemon juice or the pine nuts. It's a delicious combo and almost as easy as the cauliflower.

8:20 AM, April 06, 2014  
Anonymous Helen in CA said...

I'm confused by the un-peeled garlic listed in the ingredients. I get roasted garlic....but garlic isn't mentioned again. So, does that mean servings also get some roasted garlic in "the shell"? Help.

6:54 PM, April 08, 2014  
Blogger Molly said...

Helen in CA, roasting the garlic in the "shell" keeps it moist, so that when it's done roasting, the clove is soft and spreadable. Some servings will get unpeeled cloves, yes, but it's easy to discard the papery shell, and then you can eat the tender inside.

8:43 PM, April 09, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or, you could sprinkle a little smoked paprika on it, then roast it, then throw it in a blender or food processor with your favourite broth, and have soup to die for!

7:42 PM, April 24, 2014  
Blogger Unknown said...

WoW, I've never had roasted cauliflower! I've had (and love) carmelized onions. Can't wiat to try the 2 together!!

7:54 AM, April 25, 2014  
Anonymous Sarah said...

This is SO good as is...BUT! I was reading the article about middle eastern food last week in the NYT so I decided to play with it only a little bit. I added two tbsp of za'atar before roasting. Then, when it was done, I tossed the whole thing with a cup of cooked red quinoa and threw in the finely grated zest of a lemon. In a little bowl on the side I made a yogurt tahini sauce with garlic, a little lemon and water. It was so likeable even my pickiest kid liked it. Although he isn't really THAT picky. Also, the colors were gorgeous.

5:33 PM, May 04, 2014  
Blogger Greg said...

What's the point of the whole garlic cloves? A poster above said she added it with the park so it doesn't burn.. That seems like a better option?

4:14 PM, July 08, 2014  
Blogger Giovanna Mas said...

I buy Parmesan on:


12:44 PM, November 10, 2014  
Blogger One Mediator 1 Tim. 2:5 said...

Just made it tonight and now I wish I bought two heads.
We have an electric range and it took a little linger, but it was worth it.
I wish I had put more garlic in. 7 cloves were not enough.
The grated cheese is a great touch.

8:44 PM, March 13, 2015  
Blogger juicebox said...

Or you could spread it on pizza dough, minus the parmesan, then dot it with Roquefort crumbs. Just sayin'.

7:56 AM, March 15, 2015  

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