As a rule, I don’t use my oven in the summer. All of those beautiful tomato tarts, zucchini breads, bing cherry pies, sweet corn puddings, and charred eggplants mashed with tahini—not happening. We live in a railroad-style apartment with an AC window unit in the bedroom, which is on the opposite end of the apartment from the kitchen, so any oven usage turns three quarters of the apartment into an inferno and forces us to camp out next to the window unit for the next hour after the baking ends. I’ll make an exception maybe once or twice a summer for something truly amazing, but as you can imagine given the summer oven situation (and given my extreme love for salads), that something must be TRULY amazing. Luckily, a bit of autumn weather descended this weekend and when preparing the cauliflower that showed up in the best farm share box ever (seriously—cauliflower, baby bok choy, delicata squash, leeks, Italian prune plums, green beans, and grape tomatoes) I wasn’t forced to choose between munching delicious crispyness and languishing in extreme sweaty discomfort. But . . . if I had to choose . . . this cauliflower falls into the category of the truly amazing.
Cauliflower, like eggplant, is one of those vegetables that when prepared poorly can be repulsive but when prepared well can be something you crave and daydream about when you should be writing work emails . . . or meditating in yoga class . . . or listening to your partner talk about his detailed thoughts on soccer news (not that I would ever do this . . !). In cooler, more oven-friendly temperatures, Andrew and I often make a meal out of roasted cauliflower and some bread and cheese. If it’s been more than a week or two since we’ve had this meal, one of us will suggest it as an option. This cauliflower is really good! Once I made it at Thanksgiving with my family in Pennsylvania and my dad exclaimed, “I don’t even like cauliflower very much, but I can’t stop eating this!” So there you have it. Please try this recipe right away. Or as soon as you get central air and/or the temperature dips into the 70s. But if you can’t wait for that, I promise it will still be worth it!
Crispy Cauliflower with Whole Cloves of Garlic
serves 2 to 4
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cored and chopped into florets
- 1/4 cup peeled garlic cloves
- 1/3 cup neutral, high smoke-point oil, like avocado or sunflower seed
- Preheat oven to 425°. In a large bowl, combine cauliflower florets, garlic, and oil. Salt liberally and mix well.
- Spread cauliflower onto a large baking sheet. When oven is ready, bake cauliflower for 35 to 40 minutes, or until browned and crispy.