I hope you had a fabulous Labor Day weekend. Mine was severely busy, and involved a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame, which was a lot of fun, though the drive was long.
We ended up eating at a small-town diner on the way home, and while the dessert was delicious, the rest of the meal was kind of lackluster. Canned, overcooked green beans. Not my thing anymore, not when I know what fresh tastes like, and even frozen ones can retain crunch and more flavor. So, I've been inspired to find recipes that use veggies creatively.
When I first saw this recipe, I was a little curious and a lot intrigued. I like cauliflower in its most typical steamed fashion. I also find it delicious in curries like an Aloo Gobi (all spelling errors mine). I've had it raw, and like most Americans, I've had it smothered in cheese, but never roasted. This recipe allows you to enjoy the cheesiness of a childhood comfort food with the sophistication of a good balsamic vinegar. It also employs marjoram, which I have heard is making a comeback in culinary circles. I put a great deal of thought into this, and I couldn't for the life of me think of anything I'd ever eaten with marjoram, though I'm sure I must have. If you ask my friend Beki, it never went out of style, but I digress:
8 cups 1-inch-thick slices cauliflower florets, (about 1 large head; see Tip) Make sure your favorite large knife is really sharp, or it could get stuck in the core of the cauliflower.Also, beware the crumbling of the edges. You will have little bits of cauliflower everywhere, but it's worth it.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/4 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper to taste I have a grinder with a blend of peppercorns, about five grinds worked here
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450°F.
2. Toss cauliflower, oil, marjoram, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Spread on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until starting to soften and brown on the bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Toss the cauliflower with vinegar and sprinkle with cheese. Return to the oven and roast until the cheese is melted and any moisture has evaporated, 5 to 10 minutes more.
No quibbles here. The recipe is straightforward and easy to follow. What you'll end up with is a mix of textures, as the bits that came into contact with the pan with be softer, yet there is still some crunch. I thought I should have cooked them about five minutes longer, my sweetie disagreed. While this was meant to be four servings, I didn't serve a starch with dinner and we ate the whole thing, including scraping the burnt cheese off the bottom of the baking pan in a very undignified fashion.
* Tip: To prepare florets from a whole head of cauliflower, remove outer leaves. Slice off the thick stem. With the head upside down and holding a knife at a 45° angle, slice into the smaller stems with a circular motion—removing a “plug” from the center of the head. Break or cut florets into the desired size.
I actually sliced straight down, and removed the core parts as necessary, I think it worked just fine. No need to complicate a side dish with geometry unless it's absolutely necessary.
I served this with chicken in a cream sauce with chives. The vinegar contrasted nicely with the chive sauce.
Let's hear from you! What's a creative way you do vegetables? Questions? Comments? Death threats? (just kidding) Please comment below.