Whenever I go to Soul-Cycle Tribeca, I always stop at the Whole Foods next door for two things: Blue Print Cleanse (Green & Red) and curried cauliflower from the salad bar. You may think cauliflower is a snooze fest, and I agree, it can be. But there’s one cooking method that makes anything taste better. Roasting.
Roasting uses indirect heat to cook evenly. It produces a crispy texture on the outside, while cooking all the way through the inside. Meat benefits greatly from roasting, but vegetables are my fave. Here are a couple great roasting tips from Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
1. Get that oven HOT (over 400 F)
2. Don’t crowd the pan – make sure there’s enough room so the heat can circulate and any moisture will evaporate. If you crowd the vegetables together, they’ll just trap the heat and steam so you’ll never get that gorgeous browning or crisp exterior.
If you’re looking for a vegetarian bible, get Bittman’s book. There’s literally a recipe for every vegetable you can imagine and he offers vegan substitutions too.
I’ve roasted just about everything from broccoli, onions, garlic, asparagus, fennel, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant, to apples, pineapples and fresh chestnuts (YUM). It completely transforms boring vegetables into sweet, carmelized morsels. It’s easy and ideal when entertaining because you’re not chained to the cooktop paying more attention to your dish than your guests. You’ll never believe cauliflower could taste so good!!
If you don’t already have them, invest in a set of stainless steel baking sheets, also known as jelly roll pans. I prefer not to use non-stick because of the perfluorooctanoic acid (say that ten times fast) used to create the non-stick coating. (Scroll down for more info on PFOA). If you use non-stick to save calories, try a high heat canola oil in spray form. You’ll use less with the spray, and it’s easier to coat evenly without dousing with oil.
Spectrum canola spray
I could not live without my baking sheets. If you’re looking to stock your kitchen with the right tools and equipment, start with (2) half sheet pans, and (2) quarter sheet pans. You can find baking sheets and other cookware, utensils, and baking items, at Broadway Panhandler. Their prices are typically better than specialty stores like Williams-Sonoma. I can get lost in Panhandler for hours. It’s a vortex like CVS or Duane Reade. I go in for something specific, and walk out an hour later with various things I don’t need. You can also order online or find baking sheets at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond.
I took a stab at replicating the Whole Foods curried cauliflower. I’m proud to say, it’s pretty darn close and I really like my addition of quinoa [pat, pat on the back, back]. Not only is this dish delicious, it’s incredibly healthy. Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, and Vitamin C. With the addition of quinoa, it’s a balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Quinoa is a complete protein, high in essential amino acids and is gluten-free. I cannot get enough of it.
I’ve also roasted cauliflower and tossed it with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. It’s totally amazing with the addition of parmesan cheese too.
Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Or a stellar roasted vegetable dish? Share it!
Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Quinoa and Carmelized Onions
4 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 small-medium yellow onion, sliced
1 head cauliflower
1 can garbanzo beans
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
2 garlic cloves
Garam Masala is available at Whole Foods and most ethnic food stores. If you can’t find it, you can make your own. Click here for the recipe.
1. Set oven to 400. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan (or eyeball it…enough to coat the cauliflower. Start with a little, add more if you need it). If you’re using oil spray, spray the pan. Place cauliflower on the sheet pan. Season with salt, pepper and curry. Mix with hands making sure all florets are coated. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until florets are slightly browned and cooked through. Be sure to rotate position of pans and mix cauliflower occasionally.
2. While cauliflower is cooking, heat 2 T extra virgin olive oil in medium saute pan. Add onion and saute until translucent. Season.
3. Add chickpeas and cook about 2 minutes. Add garlic, garam masala and turmeric. Stir to coat chickpeas and onions. Add peas cooking another 2 minutes until warmed through. Add two cups quinoa and stir until warmed through. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
4. Put quinoa/chickpea mixture into a large bowl. Once cauliflower is done, add to the quinoa. Squeeze 1/2 lemon and stir in. You can also sprinkle chopped cilantro on this as a garnish.
5. Serve warm or room temp.
To learn more about the benefits of cauliflower, check out these links:
University of California, Santa Barbara: UCSB Scientists Show How Certain Vegetables Combat Cancer
Benefits of Cauliflower and Broccoli
To learn more about the dangers of PFOA, check out these links: