For the past five years, I’ve been on a crusade. Not of a violent nature but one a little more serene – incorporating a wider variety of vegetables onto my daily plate. I write crusade since, at the beginning, it was a forceful act. Like many Americans, eating vegetables didn’t always come naturally to me. My parents were (and continue to be) explorers of new food, so when I was kid we grew tomatoes, made yogurt and sprouted mung beans at our house. It wasn’t always pretty – think scrambled eggs with bean sprouts which remain truly disgusting to me – but they instilled a hunger for novel fare. When I became a chef, that exploration continued; however, I confess my personal veggie repertoire remained fairly limited. It wasn’t until I had to change my diet to fit into my clothes that I truly started traveling the greener side of the protein.
And so it began. The bi-weekly co-op veggie box nudged me to beets, bok choy, Swiss chard and the humble cauliflower. I loathed this white wonder every time Mom dropped it in front of me. I stayed for an hour at the table, pushing the evil flowery things around the plate in the hopes that it might appear as if I’d snacked on tidbits. In rare instances I had but Mom usually caved when I whined enough. I was a pain in the ass. If I could do it all over again, I might realize the beauty gone missed.
Rich in antioxidants, cauliflower’s white color belies its nutritional value. It comes in a variety of colors – green, orange and purple – which are just now showing up in super- and farmer’s markets, and botanists now believe that today’s pale version is an albino mutant of those vibrant ones. But don’t be afraid to embrace the darker side when you can — kids might also try the weirder stuff .
It wasn’t until someone talked about roasting cauliflower that I began actually enjoying it. My husband even liked it… which is a feat unto itself since the smell of broccoli, a relative, turns his stomach. This curry recipe is only the beginning of a variety of roasted cauliflower goodies – substitute whatever spice floats your boat: smoked paprika, chili powder, cumin… this cabbage cousin lends itself to a world of roasted possibilities.
For a quick weeknight meal, pick up a rotisserie chicken and enjoy the cauliflower as the side. Serve with an aromatic white wine like Viognier, dry Riesling or Chenin Blanc. This recipe also reheats nicely the next day for leftovers.
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
1 ½ teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon yellow or red curry powder
½ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a roasting pan, toss all ingredients together, making sure all the florets get some olive oil and seasoning.
3. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the largest floret slides in easily.