Cauliflower was one of the vegetables my Little Missy used to eat with no problems back in the days before she went on veggie strike. She ate it steamed, straight up. Then I was able to convince her to eat it by melting some cheese on it, but soon no amount of cheese would get her to eat it. The only way I’ve been able to get her to eat cauliflower has been to puree it and mix it into spaghetti sauce, macaroni and cheese, or soup. But even then, if by some freak accident a teensy bit of a cauliflower floret made it through without getting pureed, she would find it and stop eating. I kid you not. Recently I was watching Lucinda Scala Quinn making roasted cauliflower on Mad Hungry. Little Missy saw her pull the sheet pan of cauliflower out of the oven and said, “That looks yummy, crunchy, crispy.” This little comment completely threw me for a loop. I wanted to ask her if she was crazy, did she not know this was the stuff she always called yucky and absolutely refused to eat? But of course I couldn’t waste this little sign of interest in food and I had to run with it. So, the next time we were at the store I picked up a head of cauliflower.
A few days later I called her into the kitchen when I was starting dinner and I showed her the cauliflower. Being three years old, with a brain like a sponge and a rapidly developing memory, one of her favorite phrases is, “remember, last night…?” She hasn’t quite grasped the concept of time, so anything that happened in the past is “last night.” I used her little favorite phrase and asked if she remembered when she saw the lady making the crispy, crunchy white stuff on TV and if she wanted to have some with dinner. Jumping up and down, she goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah!” She’s gotten excited about dinner before, only to completely refuse to touch it when it was done, so I tried not to get too hopeful about her exuberant response.
I sliced the cauliflower and offered some of the little “crumbs” to Little Missy to nibble on and she actually ate them all. In my mind at this point dinner was already a success since at least I knew that at the very least, I could always get her to eat cauliflower raw. She kept coming back asking for more and was actually disappointed when I told her the rest was in the oven. I was a little nervous after that wondering if she would eat them once they were done. Sure enough she turned her nose up at them at first, but by then she was in a funny mood and was even refusing to eat the spaghetti and red sauce I had made to go with the cauliflower. However, once I started to feed her, mixing the cauliflower pieces with the pasta and sauce she downed them all.
If like me, you have never before had roasted cauliflower, you should try it. The flavor is sublime and sweet and slightly nutty. Interestingly when it first starts to cook in the oven, you get the slightly pungent odor of cooked cauliflower but as it continues to cook that odor is replaced by a sweet aroma that turns out to be similar to the flavor.
Here is my method for making roasted cauliflower and the link to Lucinda Scala Quinn’s recipe follows (including a tasty fancy version).
Head of cauliflower
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
- After washing and coring the cauliflower slice it into about ½ inch slices. Some pieces will remain intact, looking a little like the cross section of a tree but others will fall apart, which is OK.
- Lay the pieces flat on a sheet pan and drizzle with EVOO and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss to evenly distribute the oil and spices.
- Roast in a 425F oven for 30-40 minutes, flipping over the pieces half way through cooking.
- Serve hot as an accompaniment to your favorite entrée.
The link to Lucinda Scala Quinn’s Caramelized Cauliflower: http://www.marthastewart.com/285444/caramelized-cauliflower-plain-and-fancy