Roasting is my go-to method for cauliflower. But what if you spoon the tender, bronzed florets onto a bed of creamy whiteness that also turns out to be cauliflower? Top that with savory granola? Finish with a fine drizzle of turmeric honey?
Whether this dish tastes better than roasted cauliflower on its own is a matter of opinion, but I will say it tastes different–and interesting enough to satisfy as my husband’s entire lunch.
We witnessed its creation in the Whitney Museum’s restaurant, Untitled. Counter stools offer a perfect view of cooks rapidly assembling clever dishes.
I asked a few questions on the spot, but felt confident enough to proceed recipe-less.
Roasting cauliflower: I know how to do that.
I simmered the part destined for pureeing, thereby preserving its snowy color, and added richness with a little heavy cream.
For the granola, I went heavy on almonds, stirring in oats, grapeseed oil and sea salt before crisping the mixture in the oven. My version of turmeric honey was limited to those two ingredients, shaken with a little water.
Besides adding an unusual dish to my vegetable repertoire, this exercise had other benefits. It proved that a pureed vegetable can serve as sauce for the same vegetable in roasted form. I hadn’t made a savory granola before but found other ways to use what was left over: as a topping for broccoli or green beans, vanilla ice cream or my morning fruit-and-yogurt concoctions.
For a touch of sweetness in one thing or another, I’ll now consider shaking up some turmeric honey.
Focusing on cauliflower reminded me of a trick a long-ago cooking teacher, with her frugal Italian-American roots, showed me. If the greens are in good condition, pull them off, simmer briefly in water, and season with butter, salt and pepper. Delicious.
What else can I say? Sit at the restaurant bar or counter if there’s some action worth watching. You never know when you’ll learn something.
This recipe is based on a clever lunch dish we sampled at the Whitney Museum's restaurant.
- 2 large heads cauliflower cored
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- ¼ cup heavy cream or half and half
- Freshly ground white or black pepper
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- Up to 1 cup Savory Almond Granola for sprinkling (see recipe)
- Turmeric honey for drizzling (see recipe)
Prepare cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400F. Break or cut cauliflower into small pieces. Reserve 4 cups to puree.
Spread remaining cauliflower (about 16 cups) on two parchment-lined sheet pans. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast, turning from time to time, for about 40 minutes until golden brown and tender.
Put reserved 4 cups cauliflower into a saucepan and barely cover with salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer until very tender. Drain, reserving ½ cup cooking water. Transfer cauliflower to a blender or food processor. Blend, adding the cream and enough cooking water for a creamy consistency (a little runnier than mashed potatoes). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Assemble dish: Swirl pureed cauliflower on oven-proof platter or casserole. Pile roasted cauliflower on top. Drizzle with a little olive oil and the lemon juice.
Sprinkle with Savory Almond Granola. Heat in oven until hot. Drizzle with turmeric honey.
Use this crunchy savory topping on any vegetable dish, including green beans, broccoli and cauliflower.
- 2 cups old-fashioned oats
- ¾ cup slivered almonds
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 300F.
Mix oats and almonds on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Add olive oil and salt. Stir again.
Cook for 30 minutes, stirring often, until lightly browned and crisp.
- 2 tablespoons honey
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
Combine honey with turmeric and ¼ cup water in a squirt bottle or small jar. Shake well.