I am loving cauliflower at the moment, especially as a centerpiece to a dinner. A whole head of it looks dramatic, and so much prettier than just a side of florets. This recipe is pretty simple as well: yes, you need to brown the cauliflower and then roast it, but it’s only two steps and adds so much flavor. Also, I honestly can’t think of a recipe that isn’t improved by brown butter.
This recipe can be a main course or a side, I love it so much.
1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), white, green or Romanesco
5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
1 cup dry white wine, plus extra for cooking (or broth)
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 pinch red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons browned butter
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450F degrees.
Remove the cauliflower leaves and put the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. As if coring a tomato, core the base of the cauliflower: insert a small sharp knife about 1 inch into the base of the stem, make a circular cut to loosen the cone-shaped core, then pry it out and discard.
In a dutch oven large enough to hold the whole cauliflower, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower bottom side up. Crisp up the cauliflower, turning it occasionally with tongs for even browning. This should take about 5 minutes; reduce the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Carefully turn over and brown the other side lightly, for a few more minutes.
Remove the cauliflower to a plate (I used the lid for the dutch oven so I didn’t have to clean a plate) and add garlic and rosemary to the pot. Stir until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add white wine, bay leaf, lemon slices, chiles and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Return cauliflower to pot, right side up. Baste with the wine liquid. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to reduce the wine. Cover the pot, place in the oven and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes; a knife will go into the thick stems with almost no resistance. Check on it every 15 minutes, add more wine if too much has cooked off. Transfer the cauliflower head to a serving plate or shallow bowl and cut in half, quarters or thick slices. Spoon the brown butter on top. Serve.