I eat cauliflower because I like it. I like it a lot.
In fact, it is my favorite cruciferous vegetable, and in my opinion, the best member of the brassicaceae family, which also includes broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage and kale — although romanesco, with its gorgeous fractals, is the best looking.
And I tend to eat it as cauliflower, not as a substitute for foods like potatoes, rice or pasta.
So when I came across this recipe starring a whole head of cauliflower in the September/October issue of Christopher Kimball's Milk Street magazine it got my attention. Milk Street adapted the recipe from Diane Kochilas' My Greek Table.
The recipe calls for coating a whole head with a savory-sweet-tangy mixture of olive oil, mustard, garlic and honey, roasting it, and then topping it with a crown of crumbled feta cheese and parsley and popping it back in the oven to slightly melt the feta.
The resulting dish is an outstanding balance of nutty, sweet, tangy and vegetal. The cauliflower is enhanced rather than masked by the supporting players of mustard, cheese and herbs.
The Milk Street version of the recipe calls for serving the cauliflower with some of the oil-mustard slather as a sauce. I found it to be delicious with just a squeeze of lemon juice, as Kochilas' original recipe suggests.
I haven't tried this yet. But, to speed up the process, I think it would also work to break the cauliflower into florets, toss them with some of the olive oil-mustard sauce and roast until golden and tender. Then scatter the feta-parsley mixture on top and continue cooking just until the cheese begins to melt.
When I calculated the nutrition data using the U.S. Department of Agriculture FoodData Central database (fdc.nal.usda.gov/), I figured based on using the entire amount of olive oil-mustard slather and sauce. But in reality, I only used about half the mixture so the actual calories, fat and sodium in this dish are likely quite a bit lower than the numbers here. The carbohydrates -- for those counting -- are not, as nearly two-thirds of the carbs in this dish come from the cauliflower.
Roasted Whole Cauliflower With Feta
½ cup olive oil
3 to 4 tablespoons Dijon or other favorite mustard (I used a combination of Dijon and sweet mustard), divided use
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
2 cloves garlic, finely grated or mashed to a paste
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 large head cauliflower, trimmed so the stem is flat and level with the bottom of the head
2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Lemon wedges, for serving
Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, 2 tablespoons of the mustard, the vinegar, honey, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper until smooth and creamy. If desired, set aside a few tablespoons to use as a serving sauce.
Place the cauliflower in the center of the prepared baking sheet. Brush the surface with the remaining oil-mustard mixture. Roast until tender, 45 minutes to 1 hour. It will turn deep golden brown and be charred in places.
In a small bowl, combine the feta and parsley and mix well.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven (leave oven on) and brush with remaining mustard. Pat the feta-parsley mixture onto the cauliflower, pressing to help it adhere. Return cauliflower to oven and bake 5 to 10 minutes more or until feta begins to melt.
Using a wide spatula, transfer the cauliflower to a cutting board and cut into wedges. Serve with lemon wedges for squeezing and the reserved sauce, if desired.
Makes about 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving (using all of the sauce) contains approximately 380 calories, 6 g protein, 32 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 12 mg cholesterol, 762 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.
Food on 01/15/2020
Print Headline: FRONT BURNER: Roasted cauliflower jazzed up by feta and lemon