My friend Katie once told her husband that she wanted to eat more vegetarian dishes at home. Her husband, a die-hard meat lover, responded with, “Sure, we can do chicken and fish.”
I still laugh about this, because like Katie’s husband, I grew up in a home where meat was a part of every meal; even the “vegetable” dishes were flavored with ground pork, chopped up shrimp, or a dash of fish sauce. For a long time, it was hard to imagine a meal that didn’t have some sort of animal product as the focus, but clearly, my tastes have changed: I found myself salivating over a head of roasted cauliflower.
This recipe is inspired by Chef Eyal Shani of the restaurant Miznon (locations in Paris, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Melbourne, and now NYC) – he’s been dubbed the King of Cauliflower, and this melt-in-your-mouth crucifer is his signature dish.
It is a super simple dish – essentially a head of cauliflower blanched in salted water, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned, and roasted in a very hot oven. By some sort of alchemy, the result is a deeply flavorful, slightly charred dish that can be sliced and served as if you were serving prime rib. I made of couple of these a few weeks ago when I hosted a few vegetarian friends for dinner; even the meat eaters agreed that this was an exceptionally delicious, light main that they wouldn’t mind having again.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower, Miznon-Style
1 whole white cauliflower (search for tightly packed florets with bright green leaves)
3 tbsp. olive oil
sea salt (or kosher salt)
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, then add entire head of cauliflower, cover, and gently boil for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the size of your cauliflower. Drain well.
Trim the bottom of the cauliflower so that it is even and can sit upright on its own (you want the cauliflower head to roast evenly), taking care to keep the leaves attached. With clean hands, rub a tablespoon of olive oil between the palms. Gently massage the cauliflower with olive oil, repeating with the other two tablespoons of oil as needed to coat the florets, then season generously with salt. Place in a baking dish, place the dish in the center of the oven, and bake until the top turns golden brown. You may need to turn the broiler on during the last few minutes to get the top extra toasted.
The outside of the cauliflower should be a bit crispy, and the inside should be soft and buttery. Transfer to a separate serving platter. Either cut into slices or separate the florets to serve, whichever you prefer.