A few days ago, a friend whose culinary skills I’ve long admired, posted a photo and recipe for a whole roasted cauliflower with a three-cheese sauce on his blog. He was clever enough to finish the roasted cauliflower with a generous sprinkle of grated parmesan and panko crumbs for crowning light crust. I immediately headed out in search of a small cauliflower.
The dish reminded me of steamed cauliflower in cheese sauce my mother served as I was growing up. An excellent cook, she would never have imagined roasted cauliflower and what a difference it makes in texture and flavor.
I immediately headed out in search of a small cauliflower. I succeeded in finding one that was a good size for generously serving two people. As wonderful as the three cheese sauce looked and read, I remembered a recipe for a Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Harissa Yogurt I had been meaning to try. I found it in my recipe file and made a note to borrow the panko idea
Harissa can be very spicy. 2 tsp in a cup of Greek yogurt tempered the heat and made a nice sauce for serving. I massaged a bit of olive oil, the yogurt sauce, a sprinkling of panko and Aleppo pepper on the the cooked cauliflower and returned it to the oven for a few minutes. My version was considerably paler than the cheese sauce recipe, but the flavor was very good. I think the cheese sauce version will be appearing on my table very soon.
WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH HARISSA YOGURT
1 cup plain full-fat Greek yogurt
2 tsp harissa paste
1 finely chopped garlic clove
1/2 tsp lime zest
1 medium cauliflower
2 Tbsp olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
Options: 2 Tbsp panko crumbs; 2 tsp Aleppo pepper; 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 400º.
Combine Greek yogurt, harissa, garlic and lime zest; season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 pepper. Taste before adding salt and pepper. Some harissa pastes are very salty to begin with.
Trim the leaves and stem from the cauliflower. Rub with the olive oil. Please on a foil lined baking sheet and roast until tender, about an hour.
Options: rub a little yogurt sauce over the cauliflower and sprinkle with panko and Aleppo pepper. Return to oven to set sauce and lightly toast panko.
Plate a slice of cauliflower on a generous spoonful or two of the yogurt sauce and drizzle a little more on the top. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro if desired.