If you hate cauliflower, we get it. You don’t like the taste, smell or texture of this increasingly popular cruciferous vegetable. You don’t want it made into rice, you don’t think it tastes very nice, you don’t want it mashed in with your potaters; you are an honest-to-goodness cauliflower hater.
…and you really don’t want it front and center on your plate as if it were a steak.
People who hate cauliflower are completely justified. Cauliflower did something terrible and unfair to them when they were kids, and if roasted and seared cauliflower weren’t so singularly delicious — forget healthy, it’s just really delicious — I’d let it all go and allow their hatred to steam like so many florets of terrible-smelling cauliflower. That’s the problem, you see: steaming. Don’t ever steam cauliflower if your intention is not to mash it into oblivion with butter, salt and cream. There is nothing palatable to be found, visually or flavor-wise. And especially don’t serve steamed, frozen and re-steamed cauliflower from the freezer section. It’s basically the same thing as serving no vegetables, because nobody will eat it and it will ruin its delicious potential for them in the future. Kids forced to choke it down will never forgive or forget it.
In fact, the further away you can get from large steamed florets, the better, no matter what you’re doing. Gross steamed cauliflower will make gross steamed cauliflower soup, for example. But one of the great things about this phenomenal vegetable is that it caramelizes and forms a Maillard crust just like meat, which is why it’s perfect for a high-heat application like searing. Rather than go limp and rubbery as it will with steaming, the inside of the cauliflower beneath the sear turns velvety and meaty, soaking up the toasty flavors of the searing process and presenting itself as a thoroughly appealing option in shades of ivory, golden-brown and deep brown.
My favorite way to enjoy cauliflower, other than the aforementioned steak, is roast-burnt. It involves breaking down the florets into very small pieces, no more than a square inch and a half, tossing them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roasting them at 400 degrees for a full hour (while keeping an eye on them) until they’re dark golden-brown and slightly burned on the knobbly end.
Here are a few recipes for the oven and skillet to restore your faith in what can most assuredly be an unpalatable vegetable. Again, can’t emphasize this enough, people who hate cauliflower because of steamed cauliflower are right.