Forlorn packs of iceberg lettuce stared at me. Farther away, a few bunches of tattered parsley lay forgotten on the refrigerated shelf. The only plentiful thing in the entire produce department seemed to be the restocked bags of baby carrots, a neon orange beacon amidst the cruciferous carnage.
“I’ve never seen it so decimated.” I said to Stockton as I blinked and tried to think of alternative purchases. Was this a post-apocalyptic visit to the grocery store? No. It was just the first Sunday of the new year, when everyone seems to be salad buying fiends. Stockton and I pieced together enough of a meal plan for two nights worth of dinner and we got outta there.
Lately at the market as the most crazed veggie shoppers return to the chip and dip staples, we find excellent fruit and vegetable choices. Variety in produce helps in Mayberry when your house includes a new vegetarian.
Well ok, technically, pescatarian. For the last two months, my husband hasn’t eaten red meat or poultry. Seafood made the cut so a lot of our meals include fish and rice and some vegetables. Vegetarianism certainly motivates a person to make informed meal choices. Also, it may increase mac and cheese consumption, but this lady ain’t complaining.
I’ve been on the lookout for new main dishes both of us will enjoy. When I heard about this one recipe, I decided to try it. Wait for it. Whole roasted cauliflower.
What the what. Still with me? You won’t regret it. Apparently it’s pseudo trendy to cook cauliflower now. But who cares. Let’s go.
With about an hour to go before dinner time, I trimmed the leaves and tough central stem from a large head of cauliflower. I found it more difficult than prepping artichokes, but it wasn’t too bad. I slathered the pale veggie with olive oil and salt like it was a beloved thanksgiving turkey. If I was less tired that day, I probably would have talked to it in my Julia Child voice. Sometimes you have to push on despite hardship.
I placed the roast in my preheated oven and basted with olive oil as needed over the next 50-60 minutes. When I cracked the door each time to check on progress, a heavenly scent escaped. The browning florets looked great.
Meanwhile, I fixed the herby sauce. The sauce pushes the recipe over the finish line for me. You can’t roast cauliflower without this condiment. Trust me. It’s a little fussy, but the end is worth the means.
First, I blanched my handful of almonds, jealous of how hydrated their skins were as January sand paper season has hit my knuckles. I toasted the nuts and let them cool. In the recipe, I ignored the optional anchovies. Wasn’t feeling it. Next I crushed up the nuts, garlic and butter in my cuisinart. By this time, both terriers sat at my feet eager for samples. It was harder than the cauliflower core, but I ignored them, too.
To the food processor I added some olive oil and white wine vinegar. The kitchen aromas felt intoxicating on such a frigid winter evening. So far so good. Since the grocery store didn’t have tarragon (first choice) or cilantro (second choice–mom I wouldn’t use it if I was cooking for you), instead I added chopped Italian parsley. I finished the sauce with some kosher salt and pepper. The mixture ended up a luscious shade of light green.
My oven timer beeped. Game time. I removed the roast from the oven. “Can you carve this thing for me?” I asked Stockton as I held out a knife and gestured to the mound of goodness that I never knew cauliflower capable of until that moment.
Stockton made carving look easy. The welshies showed off their best sits, but they were going to have to wait longer. Aside the slices of steamy vegetable on our plates, we spooned blobs of creamy sauce. In moments, we munched away in delight. It was love at first bite.
What stuff are you cooking lately? Who knew roasting a bunch of cauliflower would be so tasty? What vegetarian meals do you like? Tell me about it.