Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Ray of Inspiration - Parmigiano-Reggiano Roasted Cauliflower

I have a regular pantheon of culinary "gods" and "goddesses" that I look to for inspiration.   Michael Symon, Mario Batali, Laura Calder, Alton Brown, Cat Cora, Gordon Ramsey, Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver, Tyler Florence, Giada DeLaurentis and what list of Culinary Greats would be complete without the illustrious Julia Child.  I will even admit that I find occasional inspiration in Martha Stewart... (Don't be hatin'... It happens)  But my list of culinary muses rarely includes Guy Fieri, Ina Garten, Bobby Flay or Rachel Ray.  It's not that I have anything against them.  I just don't usually "feel" their food.  Ya know what I mean? 

Well that all changed today.  I guess I was being reminded that inspiration can come from just about anywhere and not to judge the messenger.

I just happened to catch a "snippet" of a Macaroni and Cheese recipe that Rachel was making on her show.  She was attempting to "hide" vegetables in the dish by adding parsnip puree to the cheese sauce, which I thought was pretty clever.  But what really caught my attention was what she chose to use as a topping in lieu of bread crumbs.  Parmigiano-Reggiano roasted Cauliflower.

Now I don't know about you, but I LOVE cauliflower.  It's subtle flavor pairs well with SO many things... But best of all, it is stellar with just about any cheese.  Which, being a complete cheese head, I find to be it's most endearing quality.

When I saw her preparation method for roasting the cauliflower and then topping the Macaroni and Cheese with it, all I could think was, "BOY, I bet that's gonna be good!"  That was when the inspiration struck.  I don't NEED to make Mac and Cheese to enjoy the cheesy cauliflower goodness she was using as a topping.  I already roast my cauliflower when I make a puree to replace mashed potatoes so it's not a new concept in food preparation of anything; why can I not simply make this into a side dish, sans Mac and Cheese.  So I did...  And I consumed...  And I relished... I was a very happy camper at dinner time, to say the least.  So, thank you Rachel Ray, cause this was wicked good!

Parmigiano-Reggiano Roasted Cauliflower

1/3 cup (78 ml) Olive Oil
4 cloves Garlic
1 Cauliflower head, cut into florets
3 TB fresh Thyme (or 1 TB dried)
Kosher Salt
Black Pepper
Juice of 1/2 Lemon
1/2 cup (2 oz) (56g) Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 F degrees.
Place Olive oil in a small sauce pan and warm over low flame. (you don't want to "deep fry" the Garlic)

Drop in the Garlic cloves and cook until browned through (about 10-15 minutes)

While the garlic is cooking and flavoring the oil, go ahead and cut the Cauliflower into bite sized florets and scatter over a parchment lined baking sheet.

When the garlic is browned remove the Oil from the heat and extract the Garlic from the oil. (use this for another purpose - it's almost like roasted garlic)
Drizzle the Garlic oil over the Cauliflower florets.

Hit it with Thyme, Salt and Pepper, then toss to coat everything evenly.

Sprinkle with Lemon Juice.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle the cauliflower with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until everything is nicely browned.

Serve piping hot....

Absolutely delicious and, aside from the extra step of making "Garlic Oil", really easy to throw together.  This one is entering into regular side dish rotation cause it's a definite winner in my book.



Patti T. said...

That is definitely a winner in my book also. We are discovering that even vegetables we didn't care for are soooooo good when roasted. Since we both looooove cauliflower I can't wait to try this. Head of cauliflower definitely going on the grocery list......NOW.

Ciao Chow Linda said...

But of course - parmesan on anything would be great. The garlic oil also adds a lot here. will be trying this soon.

Patti T. said...

I made this Shane and once again, the roasted vegetable tasted really different than steamed, the way I usually make cauliflower. I really enjoyed it.