Food is so deeply linked to memory. I cannot think about anything as simple as asparagus without remembering all the times my parents have served a side of roasted or grilled asparagus throughout my childhood. I was exposed to so many vegetables by my parents, roasted root vegetables, sauteed leeks, grilled eggplant and zucchini...but never cauliflower. My mother can't eat it, so I suppose that is a good excuse. I first ate cauliflower at a restaurant in the Berkshires last year. My boyfriend ordered it off the menu, causing the waitress to raise her eyebrow. What came changed my perception of cauliflower. What once was a boring, colorless cousin to broccoli when roasted became a caramelized savory treat that neither of us could stop eating.
We returned to the same restaurant 2 weeks later, eager to order the roasted cauliflower. Once seated with our menus we noticed with panic that our beloved cauliflower was no longer on the menu! We asked our waitress if she knew why this dish was removed. She shrugged and said "Only one person ordered it. I guess no one really likes cauliflower" So you see, that one person...was us! that was our roasted cauliflower!
Anyway, once I could no longer get that lovely roasted cauliflower dish in the local restaurant, it became a mission to recreate it. A recipe I found from Eating Well magazine came surprisingly close. I cannot take much credit for this recipe, I have made very few changes from the original, but nonetheless, here's how it goes:
Balsamic Roasted Cauliflower
1 head of cauliflower
1/2 cup Olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, or Parmesan/ramano blend
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
herbs of your choice- I used Thyme and Oregano, the original recipe called for marjoram.
First cut the head of cauliflower into pieces, lay them out to evenly cover the bottom of a baking sheet, and coat them lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs. Let them cook in the oven at 350 for about 15ish minutes (I found the longer they cook, the closer they come to the caramelized goodness of the restaurant recipe i had hoped to match), then remove dish from the oven, stir the cauliflower, the parts touching the pan should already be starting to brown. drizzle with balsamic vinegar, stir to coat, and sprinkle with Parmesan and more olive oil if you wish. Put it back in the oven (i turned up the heat a bit at this point) until they start to brown on top and the cheese gets crispy.