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whole roasted cauliflower

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roast cauliflower

Let’s face it: cauliflower does not have a lot going for it. It looks like an underdeveloped brain and – though a lovely guy at my weekly market would sing about ‘snow white cauli a pound’ – it’s far from pearly.

It doesn’t separate into florets as neatly as broccoli and the ‘florets’ look more like squabs. It isn’t very nice raw, doesn’t acquire flavour when marinated; and when cooked, turns from tough to mushy in a blink of an eye.

It doesn’t have much taste but makes you burp for hours after eating it. It isn’t good for using in funky cakes or breads. You don’t see tortellini stuffed with cauliflower. It’s not exotic; in fact it’s probably only popular in its indigenous, boring north European habitat.

It stinks. No, seriously, it does.

whole roasted cauliflower

Why in the world has it got so fashionable?

Admittedly the fame is transient. Poor European farmers thought they’d jumped on the bandwagon  couple of years ago having planted legions of caulis, enough to feed the hipsters of the world twice over. Sic transit gloria mundi though – clean eaters got bored of the cauli sooner than the crops ripened.

One good thing came out of the cauli’s five minutes: scores of recipes for the whole roasted head. And that is something that transforms the sad veg: spice it up, butter it over, herb it on and – you know, it’s quite… well, good!

whole roasted cauliflower

Servings: 2-4Time: 2 hours

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 whole head of cauliflower
  • 1 tbsp. flaked almonds plus more to sprinkle
  • sea salt
  • 30g (1 tbsp.) unsalted butter, very soft
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • zest grated from 1 lemon
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tbsp. grated Parmesan
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 heaped tsp Dijon mustard

METHOD

cauliflower

Trim the cauliflower leaves and cut the stalk. Using a small sharp knife core the stalk as deep as possible without cutting off the florets. Rinse the cauliflower and sprinkle generously with salt inside and out. Pour a handful of almond flakes into the cavity, pushing them in further with your fingers.

Preheat the oven to 190C/425F/gas 5. Place a skillet with hot water at the bottom of the oven to create steam (use the steam injection option if your oven has one).

Beat the butter with the love oil, lemon zest, Parmesan, oregano and mustard. Add the lemon juice. Spread the paste over the cauliflower head, stuff some inside and sit it on a heavy baking dish or a cast iron skillet.

dressing cauliflower for roasting

Bake for 2 hours, basting occasionally with the drippings and adding a little water to the baking dish if the topping is burning onto it too much. The cauli should turn deep brown on the outside.

roasted head of cauliflower

Remove onto a serving dish or serve in the baking one, let it stand for a couple of minutes before cutting as it will be awfully hot.

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