Almost completely engulfed by overlapping light green leaves in the field, the snow white tops of the tightly bound florets may be visible if you look closely enough. Once cauliflower is harvested, however, the leaves are almost always removed, putting the natural beauty of the florets on full display.
Over the past couple of years, cauliflower has become a staple in my household. While my wife and I have always enjoyed it, we tend to cook it several times a week now while it’s in season primarily because it’s one of my kids’ favorite vegetables. I figure, if you find a vegetable that they dig, keep it coming!
Of all the cooking preparations, nothing brings out the overall flavor, and natural sweetness, of this winter vegetable than roasting it in the oven. I almost always combine cauliflower with other seasonal vegetables, such as carrots, broccoli, beets and turnips, in a large roasting dish, toss it all with olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. I then cook the vegetables in a 425-degree oven for just under an hour, which makes for the perfect texture and flavor as it caramelizes.
This week, for the first time, I experimented with some white miso paste that I found in the refrigerated section of a local Japanese grocery store. I quartered some Japanese turnips, roasted them in the oven and then tossed them in a mixture of the miso paste, honey and a little melted butter before finishing in the oven for a few more minutes. The saltiness from the miso paste and sweetness from the honey offered a delicious balance of flavors. With the turnips all used up, I tried using cauliflower and found it to be a wonderful substitute. It’s a healthy dish that would make for a nice alterative to the typical Super Bowl foods that will be served this weekend.
Sam Edelman is general manager of the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market Association and host of “Farm to Table,” which airs live 9 a.m. Thursdays on KZSB AM 1290.
MISO AND HONEY ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
1 head cauliflower, cut florets into 1-inch pieces (available from a number of local growers at all Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Markets)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon white miso paste
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon sesame oil
2 scallions, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In large bowl, toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 20-25 minutes. In small saucepan, melt butter with white miso paste, honey and sesame oil. Remove cauliflower from oven and toss with miso mixture. Place cauliflower back on baking sheet and cook 3-5 minutes. Garnish with scallions.
Yield: 4 servings