Friday, January 22, 2010

Simple Roast Cauliflower and Roast Brussels Sprouts

Sometimes the best meals come from the humblest beginnings.  And sometimes, simpler really is better.  I don't know about you, but when I first started out cooking I always assumed that the more ingredients a recipe had, the better it would taste.  It is only in the past year or two that I am realizing that a few killer ingredients can make a much better tasting dish than a gazillion ingredients thrown in willy-nilly.  Obviously, there are some exceptions.  You cannot get the depth of flavor in a really good curry without galangal, kaffir lime leaves, coconut milk and a host of other ingredients.  But when you are roasting a vegetable or a really nice steak, simple is key.  

Recently I have been obsessed with roasting vegetables in a cast iron pan.  It all started when I stumbled across Simply Recipe's Roasted Brussels Sprouts.  I just started branching out from only cooking meat in the cast iron and I only wish I had made that leap years ago.  Vegetables roasted in a cast iron are amazing.
My favorite thing about roasting the cauliflower in the cast iron is that it gets wonderfully sweet.  And roasting it in thick slices, rather than in florets is genius because you get more caramelization across the whole surface of the cauliflower.  Whenever I try to roast florets of cauliflower I get caramelization in places and then end up with some of the florets burnt to a crisp.  There is a fine line between caramelized and cinder.  The one thing I don't like about the whole slice of roasted cauliflower is the stem.  It gets a little mushy and has a strange texture.  But there is an easy solution to that problem - just don't eat that part! 
Roasting brussels sprouts in the cast iron turns them nutty, crunchy and delicious.  The lemon juice gives them a little zing, the pecans add even more crunch, and the Parmigiano-Reggiano gives the brussels a wonderful saltiness.  Yum.  Whenever I used to roast brussels sprouts I used to throw in bacon, onion, garlic, evoo, cheese, etc.  No longer.  From here on out I am simple all the way.

Recipes after the jump!

Roasted Cauliflower with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette 
September 2009
1 (2 1/2-to 3-pounds) head cauliflower
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 small garlic clove
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (to taste)
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in lower third.  Cut cauliflower lengthwise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Put in a large cast iron skillet and toss with 2 tablespoon oil and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Roast, turning once or twice, until golden and just tender, about 25 minutes.

While cauliflower roasts, grate garlic with a microplane (or mince and mash with a pinch of salt and the back of your knife as the recipe originally instructed), then whisk together with lemon juice, remaining 2 tablespoons oil, olives, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.

Serve cauliflower drizzled with Kalamata vinaigrette.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Adapted from Simply Recipes

1 pound Brussels sprouts, rinsed, ends trimmed
1 Tbsp minced garlic (about 3 cloves)
1 teaspoon lemon juice (don't add more or the brussels will get soggy)
2 Tbsp olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup pecans, broken into smaller pieces
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place Brussels sprouts in a cast iron frying pan (or a roasting pan, but a cast iron frying pan will work great for this recipe). Toss in the garlic. Sprinkle Brussels sprouts with lemon juice. Toss with oil so that the sprouts are well coated. Sprinkle generously with salt (at least a half teaspoon) and a few turns of black pepper.

Put Brussels sprouts in oven on top rack, cook for 20 minutes, then add pecans and stir so that the sprouts and pecans get coated with the oil in the pan. Cook for another 10 minutes. Then sprinkle with parm-reg and fresh thyme and cook for another 5 minutes.

The sprouts should be nicely browned, some of the outside leaves crunchy, the interior should be cooked through.  Top with more cheese (if desired) and serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment