Yeah, yeah, I know, its not one of my best food shots and based on the photo, it does look like something that one would serve on Halloween. My attempt of being creative with a fork, resulted in a horror shot. But with that being said, this oozing brain is one of the best cauliflower dishes you will ever eat – I promise!
It all started last month, when lunching with my one of my best girlfriends at Cecconi’s, an upscale Italian restaurant in West Hollywood, where I’ve noticed that most of the waiters (and male patrons) wear man buns lol. This is LA, land of trends, and the man bun is quickly trending. It has hit West Hollywood like a flurry. Anyway, while at Cecconi’s, my girlfriend begged me to try the whole roasted cauliflower. She went on and on raving how awesome it tasted and told me that I would love it. And I’m thinking to myself…here I am at one of the best Italian restaurants in LA where I can order the most scrumptious pasta, maybe add some freshly shaved truffles too, and I’m going to get stuck eating cauliflower. So I agreed, like I always do because I’m that kind of friend, to order the cauliflower. And you know what? She was so right! After eating the whole roasted cauliflower with salsa verde, I had no regrets about not ordering the pasta. In fact, that whole week, I could not stop thinking about how yummy the whole roasted cauliflower tasted, and how much I couldn’t wait to go back to Cecconi’s again.
obsessed determined to make the cauliflower myself, however I was boggled on how they infused so much flavor into the cauliflower. Luckily, after searching the internet, and even emailing Cecconi’s for the recipe – to no avail, I found a whole roasted cauliflower recipe on Bon Appetite. The secret to a succulently marinated cauliflower is simmering it in a brine type broth prior to roasting in the oven.
The Italian salsa verde and aioli sauces can be made ahead of time and kept refrigerated. No need to heat up the sauces before serving either, as they are best served chilled or at room temperature – just like my wine. I’m sure you could even simmer the cauliflower the day before and refrigerate it too before roasting. I haven’t tried this, but I’m betting it works. Just be sure to allow the cauliflower to reach room temperature prior to roasting.
Honestly, this is one of those dishes where you don’t have to follow the recipe exactly. My favorite recipes are when you can add a little of this and a little of that. It makes cooking so much more fun and relaxed, or maybe its my wine. Anyway, not only have I made this dish with the orange cauliflower, but I have made it with the green and white cauliflower as well. Sometimes, I’m too lazy (not really, but really) to make the almond aioli and salsa verde, so I’ve served the roasted cauliflower on burrata with a drizzle of olive oil. Delicious! The red pepper flakes do add a strong kick, so if you aren’t a fan of spicy then add less red pepper flakes, or none at all.
The great thing about cauliflower is that it keeps a firm texture when cooked as opposed to broccoli. This whole roasted cauliflower with almond aioli and salsa verde is perfect served as an appetizer, side dish, or even a main dish for vegetarians.
Oh my gosh, I just figured out what my horror pictures of the cauliflower look like…
a man bun!
- 1 head of cauliflower, leaves removed
- 2½ cups dry white wine
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- juice from 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- Preheat oven to 475°.
- In a large pot or dutch oven, add 8 cups water, wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil and add cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into the center, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
- Carefully remove cauliflower, drain, and transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, rotating sheet halfway through, until brown all over, 30-40 minutes.
- To assemble: On a dish or platter, generously spread almond aioli, carefully place cauliflower on aioli and top with a generous amount of salsa verde.
- ½ cup slivered almonds
- 1 small garlic clove, finely grated
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Kosher salt
- Preheat oven to 350°.
- Toast almonds on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once, until golden brown, 5–8 minutes. Let cool.
- Pulse almonds and garlic in a food processor or blender until finely ground. With motor running, gradually stream in oil, lemon juice, then ¼ cup water; process, adding water as needed, until aioli is light, smooth, and consistency of mayonnaise; season with salt. Cover; chill.
- Do Ahead: Aioli can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
- 1 bunch fresh parsley, leaves only
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 tablespoon panko breadcrumbs, soaked in 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Add ingredients to food processor and briefly pulse to a loose sauce. Don't blend the sauce too thin as you want to have some texture.