Skillet-Roasted Cauliflower

Starting cauliflower in a cold covered skillet allows the florets to gradually steam in their own moisture.

Skillet-Roasted Cauliflower
SERVES 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS In Turkey, Greece, and Italy, cauliflower florets are often battered and fried to give them a crisp exterior; we wanted to seize on this idea without the need for messy battering and unhealthy deep frying. Pan roasting seemed like the perfect way to achieve the texture we were after and give the florets an irresistibly nutty, caramelized flavor. We began by cutting cauliflower into planks and then into flat-sided florets to maximize their exposed surface area for plenty of flavorful browning. Starting in a cold covered pan allowed the slices to gradually steam in their own moisture before we removed the lid and let them brown. To give our side dish some standout flavor, we finished cooking the florets with minced garlic, lemon zest, and fresh parsley, and to add some crunch, we sprinkled on toasted fresh bread crumbs. For the first 5 minutes of cooking, the cauliflower steams in its own released moisture, so it is important not to lift the lid from the skillet during this time.

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds)
1 slice hearty white sandwich bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

1. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with bottom of head. Turn head so stem is facing down and cut head into ¾-inch-thick slices. Cut around core to remove florets; discard core. Cut large florets into 1½-inch pieces. Transfer florets to bowl, including any small pieces that may have been created during trimming, and set aside.
2. Pulse bread in food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Heat bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, pinch salt, and pinch pepper in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bread crumbs are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer crumbs to bowl and wipe skillet clean with paper towels.
3. Combine 2 tablespoons oil and cauliflower florets in now-empty skillet and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Cover skillet and cook over medium-high heat until florets start to brown and edges just start to become translucent (do not lift lid), about 5 minutes. Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until florets turn golden brown in many spots, about 12 minutes.
4. Push cauliflower to sides of skillet. Add remaining 2 tablespoons oil, garlic, and lemon zest to center and cook, stirring with rubber spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cauliflower and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender but still firm, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer cauliflower to serving platter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Serve with lemon wedges.

VARIATIONS
Skillet-Roasted Cauliflower with Capers and Pine Nuts FAST VEG
Omit bread and reduce oil to ¼ cup. Reduce salt in step 3 to ¾ teaspoon. Substitute 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and minced, for garlic. Substitute 2 tablespoons minced fresh chives for parsley, and stir ¼ cup toasted pine nuts into cauliflower with chives.

Skillet-Roasted Spiced Cauliflower with Pistachios FAST VEG
Omit bread and reduce oil to ¼ cup. Heat 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon coriander seeds in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to spice grinder or mortar and pestle and coarsely grind. Wipe skillet clean with paper towels. Substitute ground cumin-coriander mixture, ½ teaspoon paprika, and pinch cayenne pepper for garlic, 1 teaspoon grated lime zest for lemon zest, and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint for parsley. Sprinkle cauliflower with ¼ cup pistachios, toasted and chopped, before serving with lime wedges.

Braised Cauliflower with Garlic and White Wine
SERVES 4 to 6 FAST VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS When properly cooked and imaginatively flavored, braised cauliflower can be toothsome, nutty, and slightly sweet—a perfect backdrop for a variety of Mediterranean flavors. However, too many recipes result in cauliflower that is waterlogged and bland or, worse, sulfurous and unappealing. To avoid these problems (which stem from overcooking), we knew we would need to quickly braise the florets. To this end, we cut the florets into small, 1½-inch pieces, which reduced the total cooking time. Sautéing the cauliflower in olive oil imparted nuttiness. Because we wanted the cauliflower to cook in our braising liquid for only a short amount of time, we maximized its impact by creating an ultraflavorful broth that the porous vegetable could absorb. White wine and broth made for a complexly flavored base, and a generous amount of garlic along with a pinch of red pepper flakes added punch and deeper flavor. For the best texture and taste, make sure to brown the cauliflower well in step 1.

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1½-inch florets
Salt and pepper
⅓ cup chicken or vegetable broth
⅓ cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1. Combine 1 teaspoon oil, garlic, and pepper flakes in small bowl. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add cauliflower and ¼ teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until florets are golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes.
2. Push cauliflower to sides of skillet. Add garlic mixture to center and cook, mashing mixture into skillet, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cauliflower.
3. Stir in broth and wine and bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until cauliflower is crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Off heat, stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

VARIATIONS
Braised Cauliflower with Capers and Anchovies FAST
Add 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed and minced, and 1 tablespoon rinsed and minced capers to oil mixture in step 1. Stir 1 tablespoon lemon juice into cauliflower with parsley.
Braised Cauliflower with Sumac and Mint FAST VEG
Omit wine. Substitute 2 teaspoons ground sumac for pepper flakes and increase broth to ½ cup. In step 3, once cauliflower is crisp-tender, uncover and continue to cook until liquid is almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Substitute 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint for parsley and stir ¼ cup plain yogurt into cauliflower with mint.

Cauliflower Cakes
SERVES 4 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS In eastern Mediterranean countries, vegetable cakes are a common addition to the dinner table; they’re simple, filling, and a unique way to serve vegetables. For cauliflower cakes with complex flavors, a creamy interior, and a crunchy browned exterior, we started with the cauliflower itself. To ensure that the flavor of the cauliflower didn’t get lost and to drive off excess moisture that would otherwise make our cakes fall apart, we cut the cauliflower into florets and roasted them until they were well browned and tender. Tossing the florets with warm spices like turmeric, coriander, and ground ginger bloomed the spices’ flavors and gave the cakes an aromatic backbone. Next we needed a binder to hold the shaped cakes together. Egg and flour are standard additions, but we also added some goat cheese to provide extra binding, creaminess, and tangy flavor. Though these cakes held together, they were very soft and tricky to flip in the pan. Refrigerating the cakes for 30 minutes before cooking them proved to be the best solution. The chilled cakes transferred from baking sheet to skillet without a problem and were much sturdier when it came time to flip them. In addition to the lemon wedges, serve with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce or Yogurt-Herb Sauce .

1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 1-inch florets
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground ginger
¼ teaspoon pepper
4 ounces goat cheese, softened
2 scallions, sliced thin
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, plus lemon wedges for serving
¼ cup all-purpose flour

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss cauliflower with 1 tablespoon oil, turmeric, coriander, salt, ginger, and
pepper. Transfer to aluminum foil–lined rimmed baking sheet and spread into single layer. Roast until cauliflower is well browned and tender, about 25 minutes. Let cool slightly, then transfer to large bowl.
2. Line clean rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Mash cauliflower coarsely with potato masher. Stir in goat cheese, scallions, egg, garlic, and lemon zest until well combined. Sprinkle flour over cauliflower mixture and stir to incorporate. Using wet hands, divide mixture into 4 equal portions, pack gently into ¾-inch-thick cakes, and place on prepared sheet. Refrigerate cakes until chilled and firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Line large plate with paper towels. Heat remaining 3 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Gently lay cakes in skillet and cook until deep golden brown and crisp, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Drain cakes briefly on prepared plate. Serve with lemon wedges.

 

 

Vegetarian & Vegan

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