Over a decade ago (probably during her visit to the U.S. in 2004), my grandmother made a whole roasted cauliflower. I don’t remember much about it, other than that it was delicious. I assume there was plenty of turmeric and cumin and coriander and ginger and chilies involved, but I can’t say for sure. I’m also pretty sure it sat in the oven for hours, tantalizing us with its smell, while the huge head tenderized on the inside and caramelized on the outside. In any case, despite thinking about it from time to time, I hadn’t had it, or any other whole roasted cauliflower, since.
Vegetables usually get shafted when it comes to “ta da” presentation moments at the dinner table. Roast birds or meat or even a whole fish get all the glory, while vegetables are shunted to the “side dish” category to languish in anonymity next to the bread. It’s a shame, because as both my grandma and Joy the Baker proved, they can be real showstoppers.
Joy’s version of whole roasted cauliflower outdoes my grandmother’s in a few ways. One: there’s a recipe, so I can remember how to actually make the thing. Two: her cauliflower takes much less time to make. And three: it comes with a beer cheese sauce. THAT’S RIGHT. Beer and cheese, reunited and it feels so good!
Let’s talk about number two for a minute. Rather than spending hours trying to roast the cauliflower, Joy gives it a nice pre-oven bath in a butter- and olive oil-laden pool, spiked with spices and so delicious that I may or may not have been eating it like soup. Boiling the cauliflower in this flavorful broth infuses it with flavor while allowing you to keep your oven time down. A hefty sprinkle of paprika all over the cauliflower and 30 minutes in the oven are all you need for slightly charred florets that are crisp-tender perfection.
The beer sauce is a perfect dip for the cauliflower, all tangy and cheesy and slightly spicy. There’s no doubt that this is a number one stunna of a vegetable dish, and until I get back to India for my grandma’s recipe, this’ll do just fine. …