Who wouldv'e thought that there was a way to make cauliflower glamorous enough for company? This has to be just about the prettiest presentation of this vergetable I've ever come across — and that includes the one I recently made using the Gramercy Tavern's cookbook.
For this version, you trim off the leaves and slice the stem off so the cauliflower sits flat. Then it spends some time simmering in a savory liquid before being drained and roasted in the oven. I saved my poaching liquid, froze it and used it again to cook another cauliflower this way a few weeks after the first one.
Mine is not quite as dark as the one pictured on Food 52's site but that's a small quibble. I also did not make the cheesy sauce from the recipe to pour over it. Instead I made this gremoleta — though Mark did request that I add grated Parmesan to the topping next time. I think that's all the cheese this dish needs. It was yummy just as it was.
I ate almost half of the head of cauliflower myself at dinner and finished the few leftovers the next day with a quick reheat in a saute pan on the stove top. I think you'll need a larger cauliflower or two small ones if you want to feed six people. Believe me they will be fighting over this dish!
Alon Shaya's Whole Roasted Cauliflower, adapted from Food 52
Serves 4 to 6
2 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup olive oil plus more for serving
2 tablespoons kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon sugar
1 bay leaf
1 head of cauliflower, stem trimmed and leaves removed
Heat oven to 475° F. Bring wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
Carefully lower the cauliflower into the liquid, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15 to 20 minutes. Cover with pot lid if cauliflower is not totally submerged in broth.
Using a big mesh spoon/strainer, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet, frying pan or roasting pan, draining well.
Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until brown all over, 30 to 40 minutes. (This really depends on the size of the cauliflower as you don't want it mushy).
Transfer cauliflower to a serving plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt and gremoleta if using.
NOTE: This would be a good vergetarian main dish but we served it as a side with pork chops, lentil and white bean salad and smashed cucumber pickles. While I liked the broth used to cook the cauliflower, I think you could leave out the wine or reduce it without losing much flavoer.