Boil cauliflower in a rich home-made vegetable broth, then roast it for a spectacular main dish, especially if surrounded by beets, sweet potatoes, parsnips, or carrots that you roasted at the same time. People who don't like bland, raw cauliflower or even blander steamed cauliflower may start to crave this rich-tasting version. Use any extra cauliflower for Happy Humflower Sauce. See notes below for a quicker version.
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 4 hours, plus more for optional soaking of beans. Yield: 8 servings plus broth and cooked chickpeas.
- 1 cup dried chickpeas (200 grams)
- 12 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 carrots
- 2 ribs celery with leaves
- 1 yellow onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 medium cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds or 680 grams)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon chipotle
- pinch kosher salt or sea salt (optional for a slightly crunchy finish)
- drizzle balsamic vinegar (optional)
- Pick through and rinse chickpeas. Put in a large pot with water and salt and cover. For creamier beans and to reduce the cooking time, soak beans for up to 18 hours if desired.
- Heat chickpeas and water to boiling over high heat, then reduce heat to simmer. Cut up vegetables just enough to allow their flavor to enrich broth and so they fit into the pot. For carrots, cut off root end, the cut carrot lengthwise and into 3- or 4-inch sections. For celery, trim off tips, then cut as you did carrots. Rinse but don't peel onions, then trim off root end and cut into quarters from root to stem. (Remove onion peel after cooking the broth.) Rinse garlic and crush with the side of your knife or a heavy cup.
- Cook broth until chickpeas are nearly tender, about 2 hours if you soaked them or 3 hours if you didn't. (Make-ahead tip: you can stop at this point and refrigerate broth for up to 5 days.)
- Remove leaves from cauliflower. Cut off at least the bottom 1/4 inch of stem to compost or toss, but cut off more if the stem sticks out past the florets. (You want the cauliflower to rest on its stem and bottom florets as it roasts for maximum browning.) Trim any extra stem and add to broth along with cauliflower, oil, cumin, and chipotle.
- Cover pot and bring broth to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until you can easily put a knife into the stem up to the center, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, put an oven rack in the bottom third of your oven and adjust other racks to allow room for the cauliflower. Heat oven to 475°. Line a roasting pan with foil. Use two big spoons or a spoon and a colander to lift cauliflower out onto roasting pan. Marvel at how the gorgeously convoluted form of the cauliflower picks up just the right amount of oil for roasting as you lift it.
- Adjust cauliflower as needed so it rests stem-side down in the center of the roasting pan. (Roast other vegetables at the same time if desired.) Roast until deep brown in spots, about 35 minutes. (I should have cooked the one pictured at the top for another five minutes.)
- Serve hot on a platter, drizzled with good balsamic vinegar and surrounded by roasted roots if desired. Refrigerate any extra for up to five days. Save broth, beans, and vegetables for Wild Humflower Pasta Sauce.
Tips and Notes
- Look for very firm, white cauliflower that doesn't have flat spots on the florets where brown spots have been cut off.
- For a quick verison, use pre-made vegetable broth and start the recipe at step 4.
- Thanks to Alon Shaya for inspiring this recipe with his fabulous version of whole roasted cauliflower. My vegan recipe starts by making broth from chickpeas and vegetables, then follows up by using the broth ingredients and extra cauliflower to make a creamy pasta sauce or spread.