Godly Greens: Grilled Cauliflower
Autumn is approaching and with it, it brings heartwarming meals and days spent in bed, listening to the rain pelting against windows. While watching the little drops form patterns, gathering into streams and armlets branching out, you can’t help but slow down the pace of things a bit. It is the time for plates loaded with hearty foods, that nourish our sun-deprived minds. And during these days I love nothing more than big plate of my grilled cauliflower. The delicate flavour of this tender, pale beauty, stressed by the smokiness only grilling brings, is delicious on its own. But drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, the greenest parsley and grilled chilli, my grilled cauliflower are the perfect dish for a rainfilled evening. Drag yourself an arm-chair to your window and enjoy this 15 minute meal. Because sometimes it’s okay to lean back a bit.
It is a bit of a sad story, really. One of neglect and maltreatment. Of crushed potential and heavy sauces. The story of cauliflower. I love this so old-fashioned vegetable, I really do. And that’s why I worry about it, not constantly, but ever so often. It seems to be highly underappreciated, despite the fact that it is delicate and packed with flavour. Unfortunately that’s a bit hard to tell, when you have it coated with a heavy hollandaise or drowned and baked in a floury bechamel sauce, loaded with cheese and butter.
I think that the delicate flavour of this pale beauty comes out best, when served on its own. Cooked til tender, maybe served with a knob of butter and a grating of nutmeg. This is all it takes. Sometimes, however, I like my food to be a bit more edgy. That’s when I start to grill things. Cauliflower is a perfect vegetable for grilling. It is firm, even when cooked and will form grill-marks rather quickly. On top of that, the contrast of white and brown (or black, depending on how far you take it) is rather stunning. The delicate flavour of the cauliflower, combined with the smokiness only grilling brings, makes for a stunning and light autumn lunch. Dressed with a good olive oil and lemon juice to contrast the smokiness, mixed with the greenest parsley and the warmth of grilled chillis, this dish is worth a place on your table and in your hearts. I like serving this as it is, just a huge plate of vegetables, maybe a bit of steamed couscous at the side. Nothing fancy, just good food.
Cauliflower Garlic Chili Olive Oil Parsley Lemon Salt
Split the head of cauliflower into florets. The size depends on you, the bigger the florets, the longer you’ll need to pre-cook them. It is not necessary to cut them into disks like I did, however the larger the even surface, the more grill flavour you can pack your floret with. So halving a floret might not be that bad of an idea.
In a large pot with salted, boiling water, cook the florets til tender, but retaining a clear bite. Drain the cauliflower and pat dry.
On a plate mix a freshly crushed garlic clove with a few tablespoons of olive oil (cheap will do) and rub the cut-side on it. Heat up a griddle pan and grill the cooked florets. Once in the pan, add salt. You are aiming for grill-marks, so some smoke might be inevitable.
For the dressing, mix equal parts of lemon juice and good olive oil, add a pinch of minced garlic, and a few teaspoons of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley. I like adding a bit of finely chopped roasted chilli. Season with salt, and possibly a pinch or two of sugar.
Plate the grilled florets and drizzle over the dressing. Serve with a bit of rice or couscous and enjoy.