We are amidst the storm before the calm. The last minute shopping, decorating, baking. The school Christmas concerts, ice skating trips, packing for holiday travel. All leading up to a (hopefully) peaceful Christmas, New Years or whatever other upcoming celebrations you have planned with family and friends.
So while a home-cooked meal is still as important as ever, I am not currently in the mood to labor through lots of chopping and fiddly food preparation. A whole-roasted cauliflower is therefore a welcome respite. No chopping at all!! Just an entire cauliflower slow-roasted until the exterior is crisp, brown and a bit caramelized and the interior is fork-tender.
I love serving this whole. It looks beautiful and the family enjoys grabbing their own florets and dipping them. It’s a fend-for-yourselves type of side dish. Sometimes we do cut it into quarters, for fairness sake, though I think the fighting for your rightful portion is half the fun.
Don’t skip the lemon creme fraiche dip. It is the cherry on the sundae – only this is cauliflower we’re talking about. If you don’t have creme fraiche, substitute Greek yogurt or sour cream. This is yet another amazing Yotam Ottolenghi recipe. Check out the two others I’ve previously posted: Cauliflower Cake and Broccoli, Beans, & Peas with Sweet Soy Tahini Sauce.
This recipe proves again that vegetables are anything but boring and there’s more to veg that steaming and sautéing. Try whole roasting!!
Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon Creme Fraiche (serves 4 as a side)
Note: This recipe is for an average sized cauliflower (3 lbs or 1.5 kg). If you use a larger or smaller cauliflower, just use more or less of the butter and olive oil. Also make a bit more or less of the lemon creme fraiche dipping sauce.
1 head cauliflower with leaves intact (see Note above)
5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, softened
3 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher or sea salt
2/3 cup (150 grams) creme fraiche or Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Using scissors, lightly trim leaves at top of cauliflower, so that about 2″/5cm of cauliflower head is exposed. Fill a pan large enough to fit the cauliflower with salty water. Bring to a boil and carefully lower the cauliflower (I used a large pair of tongs), exposed head down – it’s ok if the base sticks out a bit. Return to a boil and cook for 6 minutes. Transfer to a colander, head down, and let sit for 10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 335º F (170º C). Mix butter and oil together in a small bowl. Put the cauliflower stem side down in a medium baking tray and spread butter mix on the white part (not the leaves). Sprinkle with salt and roast for 1.5 to 2 hours, basting about 3 times. Cauliflower is done when super-tender, has turned a dark golden brown, and leaves are crisp and charred.
While cauliflower is roasting, combine the lemon juice and creme fraiche in a small bowl. Serve cauliflower warm with the lemon creme fraiche dip on the side. Can be served whole on the table for people to tear off individual florets with their fingers or you can cut into quarters and serve plated with a dollop of lemon creme fraiche.
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi via The Guardian