GOD-DESS

Simple! Sensible! Sensational!®

October 2006
© 2006 by Bret S. Beall

MORE SEASONAL ROASTING: BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER

I'm still in my roasting rut, but with cooler temperatures and great seasonal produce, who can blame me? I usually roast veggies because the process intensifies flavors. However, this month's roasting lesson is different because the vegetables in question, cauliflower and broccoli, actually mellow in flavor with roasting. This is a good thing, because many people don't like these veggies because of their strong flavor, yet they are full of vitamins, minerals and other nutritional elements like fiber.

If you already enjoy broccoli and cauliflower, you'll love these roasted versions. If you aren't a fan of these two members of the cabbage family (Brassicaceae), please try these recipes just once … you may be surprised by how much you enjoy them!

I'm going to handle the methodology in separate paragraphs for each vegetable, but otherwise, the recipes and applications are identical, so they've been combined as variations of the same recipe. The differences are due to the fact that broccoli and cauliflower have significantly different densities, a fact that must be considered when cooking all foods.

Recipe:

Preheat oven to 500ºF. Place broccoli OR cauliflower pieces (do NOT combine broccoli and cauliflower when you are roasting them, but you can place them in separate pans and roast them at the same time, but for different lengths of time) in a large bowl. Drizzle on olive oil and grind on black pepper. Stir to coat vegetable pieces evenly with olive oil and pepper, sprinkling the salt over the pieces as you stir. Dump the vegetable pieces onto a baking sheet or into a baking pan large enough to hold the pieces in a single layer (I use a baking sheet that is 12"x17", and it works well).

Broccoli: The florets should be about 1" to 1.5" long. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, turning the florets with a spatula every 5 to 10 minutes, and rotate the baking sheet/pan 180º after about 15 minutes. The delicate ends of the broccoli will burn, so remove the pan from oven as soon as the pieces start to become brown. Use immediately or allow to cool; refrigerate for up to three days, or freeze for up to a year. Yields about 2 cups of roasted florets.

Cauliflower: Roast for about 45 minutes, depending on the size of the flowerets (1.5" to 2"). Using a spatula, turn the florets every 10 minutes; rotate the pan 180º after about 25 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow to cool, or use immediately; florets can be refrigerated up to three days, or frozen up to a year. Yields about 4 cups of roasted florets.

Variations:

Herbed Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower: Once you understand the flavor of these roasted veggies, you can add various dried herbs to the mix at the same time you add the salt. Before doing this, think about how you will be using the roasted veggies (see applications below).

Applications:

Side dish: These roasted vegetables will make a great side dish to any sort of main course.

Risotto, Savory Bread Pudding, Frittata, Omelet: Using your favorite recipe for each of these dishes, add as much of the roasted broccoli or cauliflower as you would like, along with other ingredients.

Topping for Pasta, Rice, Mashed/Steamed Potatoes, Bruschetta or as a drape for your favorite meat, fish or poultry: In a skillet over medium heat, add 1T minced garlic (and 1t to 1T red chilé flakes, if desired) to about 2T olive oil in the skillet; sauté for 30 seconds. Add 1c roasted broccoli or cauliflower; toss to cover vegetables with olive oil. Add ½" lb cooked pasta, 2 c cooked rice, 2 c mashed or steamed potatoes, and toss to cover, or use as a topping for bruschetta. To use as a drape, place the meat, fish or poultry (cooked as you desire) on a plate, and add 1/4c of the garlic and vegetable sauté on top; serves 4. Enhance these applications by adding up to 1/2c slivered roasted red peppers, and up to 2T balsamic vinegar when the florets are added. Optionally, top each of these applications with some grated hard cheese (use your favorite) to further enhance the flavor profile.

There it is! A technique applied to some healthy vegetables that can enhance breakfasts, lunches and dinners for many months (especially if you choose to roast several batches and freeze them). I'm fixated on freezing veggies this time of year, because they are abundant, cost-effective, at their nutritional peak, and because buying extra to freeze helps local farmers, plus I've been doing a number of "cooking for freezing" demos, and I've been stocking my own Magic Freezer for winter use. I hope you'll do the same. As always, I'm available for educational demos on "cooking for freezing" or other topics, so contact me at 773.508.9208 or email me. I cook and talk; you eat and learn. It's a great symbiosis!


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