13 April 2014

Roasted Cauliflower with Meyer Lemon Relish

Cauliflower is having its moment. I know this because my know-everything co-worker was telling me this  salient fact just last month. Which is not to say that know-it-all's do not have points to make. He has a point. I know this because I recently paid an exorbitant sum at a highly lauded Manhattan restaurant for what amounted to cauliflower crumbs. I was scraping the plate, both because the crumbs tasted amazing, and in an attempt to get my money's worth. 

The proliferation of cauliflower recipes has caused me to re-think the pasty veg. Until recently, I'd mainly experienced cauliflower in one way: steamed, with salt and pepper. Slightly mushy. Slightly tasting of not much of anything This was how it was served growing up, and thank goodness rarely. What's the point of doing battle getting your kids to eat their vegetables if the vegetables aren't even green? My mother must've realized this and thankfully we were only served cauliflower once or twice a year.

Then a few years ago I had a cauliflower conversion. I was in grad school, on a budget, and trying to be inventive with vegetables, which are of course infinitely more affordable provided you are not dining at a fancy Manhattan hotspot. My dear friend Erin King loaned me an Indian cookbook -- cookbooks were a rare commodity and a bit of a luxury both for their bulk in packing them/bringing them on a trans-Atlantic voyage and/or spending money we didn't have to purchase them. The recipe was a sort of curry, but like nothing I'd ever tried before. It had coconut milk and ground almonds and was tinged a light golden hue with the infusion of turmeric throughout. It all sort of melted together and tasted nothing like the soapy recollection of childhood cauliflowers past.

Anyway, I'm on the cauliflower bandwagon.

I found this recipe on the beautiful Brooklyn Supper website and loved the simplicity of the roasted-cauliflower paired with a lemon-y relish (which also goes nicely with any sort of white fish). I was a little afraid of consuming an entire lemon, peel and all, even in a relish, so I opted for splitting the difference and using the juice of half the lemon and the entirety of the other half, peel and all. Be forewarned, do not try this with anything other than a thin-skinned Meyer lemon!
Roasted Cauliflower Steaks with Meyer Lemon Relish
Adapted from Brooklyn Supper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large head of cauliflower
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
ground black pepper to taste
1 Meyer lemon, sliced thinly into rounds

Lemon Relish
1 Meyer lemon
1/4 cup minced parsley
2 tablespoons minced shallot
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Trim the base of the cauliflower removing the pale green leaves but leaving the stem intact. Using a sharp chef’s knife, cut the cauliflower straight down the middle into 1/2 inch thick slices. Bits of cauliflower will fall away, which is fine, but depending on the size of the overall cauliflower you should get 3-4 full slices.

Drizzle a rimmed baking sheet with the olive oill. Set the cauliflower slices in the oil, and turn to coat both sides with the oil Sprinkle each side with sea salt and pepper. Toss in the Meyer lemon slices and roast for 20 minutes. Use a large spatula to turn the cauliflower, and then roast for another 10 – 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and the edges have browned nicely.

In the meantime, make the lemon relish. Cut the lemon in half, squeezing half the juice into a bowl. Strain into a separate bowl, removing the seeds. With the other half of the lemon, cut in half. You will now have two quarters of lemon. Chop up each quarter with a very sharp knife in a similar fashion as you would an onion, removing the seeds and chopping peel and pulp fine. Combine minced lemon, lemon juice, and all other ingredients in a small bowl. Stir to mix and let sit for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld together.

Remove the warm cauliflower to a serving tray and top with the relish, and serve. 

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