A few years ago, raw kale salad won the nation’s belly. Then baby kale leaves were turned into “chips,” scoring food awards and the most coveted spots on supermarket shelves. I’m not sure if this was before or after the crispy Brussels sprouts craze. Now cauliflower is in. These trends have made me realize that people want to eat cruciferous vegetables, but they need to be told how to make them the best—or at least intriguing—versions of themselves. Whole roasted cauliflower is stunningly beautiful, hearty, and elemental. And since cauliflower is so versatile, once you learn the technique, you can adapt the flavors to suit your every whim.
1 medium head or 2 small heads cauliflower (approximately 2 1/4 pounds)
3 tablespoons ghee
1 chile de arbol, torn in half
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
Fine sea salt
1 cup plain, full-fat Greek yogurt, Labneh (recipe below), or 4 lime wedges, for serving
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim the base of the cauliflower slightly (so it will sit upright); if your head has leaves, leave them on—they’re delicious.
- Place an ovenproof dish with high sides—ideally one just large enough to hold the cauliflower—over medium heat. Add the ghee and chile de arbol, and let the spice infuse the warm fat for 2 to 3 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the turmeric.
- Have a spoon nearby. Using gloves if you don’t want yellow-stained hands, spread the ghee mixture all over the cauliflower; use the spoon to drizzle some of the ghee between the crevices. Season the entire head generously with salt.
- Nestle the cauliflower, stem side down, in the now ghee-coated dish. Roast the cauliflower, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes, or until caramelized and tender—when you pierce it with a skewer it should offer little to no resistance. If it still seems a bit firm, return the cauliflower to the oven, reduce the temperature to 350°F, and continue to check every 5 minutes until it is cooked and caramelized. If it is browning too much (you want caramelization but not a black dinner), tent it with foil. Discard the chile and any turmeric ghee left in the pan.
- Serve with yogurt, labneh, or lime.
This dense homemade cheese is nothing more than cultured milk strained of whey until thick and creamy. It is used across many Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines, but—like crème fraîche—it will seem at home on any table.
Makes approximately 3¾ cups
4 cups plain, full-fat Greek yogurt or plain, full-fat kefir
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (optional)
Mix the Greek yogurt or kefir with fine sea salt (if using) and let this mixture sit in a cheesecloth- or coffee filter–lined sieve set over a mixing bowl (pick a bowl that allows the base of the strainer to sit high above the whey that will accumulate) for 12 to 72 hours. The longer it drains, the thicker and drier it will become. (I prefer mine after 24 hours, when it is thick but still creamy.) Refrigerated in an airtight container, labneh lasts 3 to 5 days.
Reprinted with permission from "The Modern Larder: From Anchovies to Yuzu, a Guide to Artful and Attainable Home Cooking" by Michelle McKenzie. Photographs by Rick Poon. Copyright © 2021. Published by Roost Books.