Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower

By 7 m read

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Deliciously creamy oven roasted cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Deliciously creamy oven roasted cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Who really likes cauliflower? Raise your hand. Exactly, me neither. But we’re supposed to make cauliflower part of our diet. The challenge is on.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Simple and uber-versatile cauliflower rice (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Simple and uber-versatile cauliflower rice (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Cauliflower rice and oven roasted cauliflower are two ways to make your cauliflower shine and be the center of attention. Both dishes let the subtle sweet and nutty flavors of the cauliflower stand out. This is not your childhood memory of a mushy, bitter side dish that you can’t even sneakily try to feed to your dog when nobody’s watching (because the dog won’t eat it either). 

 

Are we living in a simulation?

When looking at a head of cauliflower, something striking reveals itself. Fractals and Fibonacci sequences, symmetry in the spiral. It might be a little hard to see, but it’s there. Cauliflower’s close relative, Romanesco, makes it much easier to see. Just absolutely stunning. It looks like these vegetables have been designed by a mathematician. It’s beautiful. Look at it closely.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Romanesco (Photo by Jon Sullivan)
Romanesco (Photo by Jon Sullivan)

Buying and storing cauliflower

Cauliflower is available pretty much year-round in our area. When buying one, look for a firm head with tightly packed florets, with no damage or browning. The green leaves should still be vibrant, an indication that it has been harvested recently. Take a good whiff…if your cauliflower gives off a strong smell, it’s past its prime and cooking it will make things even worse.

If you bought it in tightly wrapped cellophane, remove it when you get home to avoid trapped moisture potentially creating rot. Just put your whole cauliflower in a loosely sealed plastic bag and store in the crisper for up to 6 days – depending on how fresh it was when you initially bought it. Adding a paper towel to the bag will help absorb any excess moisture. Pre-cut florets will only stay fresh for a few days. 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Cauliflower, olive oil, salt & pepper (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Cauliflower, olive oil, salt & pepper (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

How to make Cauliflower Rice

Making cauliflower rice is quick and easy and super versatile. Besides the cauliflower, all you really need is olive oil, salt, and pepper. Use it as you would any rice. Literally. Make a paella or jambalaya and use cauliflower rice instead!

 

Although you’re starting with a whole head of cauliflower, your cauliflower rice will be done in less time than cooking regular rice! 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

I’ll quickly walk you through one of the versions that I like as a side dish or even as main (with lots of freshly grated Parmesan on top).

 

Cut off greens and cut the cauliflower into chunks that will fit in your food processor. Rinse in colander and pat dry. 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Pulse in a food processor for 20 seconds and voilà, there’s your uncooked cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Over medium-high heat, heat up extra-virgin olive oil and sauté a finely chopped leek (about 1/2 cup) for two minutes (or until you start smelling all the good aromas coming from the leek). 

 

Now add the uncooked cauliflower rice and stir occasionally for about four minutes. Season with 1/4 tsp each of salt & pepper. In addition, I like to add some flat leaf Italian parsley for the last two minutes of cooking. 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve and garnish with some extra parsley. 

 

Tip: Just like plain rice, cauliflower rice won’t have much flavor. It’s all in the seasoning. 

 

There are innumerable ways to make your own cauliflower rice. Just like there are innumerable ways to use regular rice. This is just a quick primer and please let me know what you came up with. 

 

Tip: Luckily, making cauliflower rice is quick and easy. Making a lot ahead of time and storing it in the fridge unfortunately doesn’t do very well. The cooked cauliflower rice will soften quickly and after a day or two will develop a strong smell that will work its way through the fridge….

 

How to make Oven Roasted Cauliflower

I never thought about just simply roasting a whole head of cauliflower. When I first heard about it, my next thought was: that’s the easiest thing ever. I know it is, but if you’re talking roasted cauliflower at a chef’s level, you must watch this video. I know it’s a bit long, but so is a re-run of Seinfeld. But you most likely haven’t seen this one:

Who knew roasting a head of cauliflower is all about ego 😆

 

Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil (think pasta water). Cut cauliflower flush at the stem with the rest of the head and place the whole cauliflower in the boiling water, upside down (including leaves), and reduce to a simmer.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Let it simmer upside down (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Let it simmer upside down (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Then remove from the water and wait for the steam to dissipate. 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - It’s just like washing your hands (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
It’s just like washing your hands (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Pour some olive oil into your hands and rub the cauliflower with it.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Rub olive oil all over the cauliflower (Photo by Viana Boenzli)
Rub olive oil all over the cauliflower (Photo by Viana Boenzli)

Kitchen Hack: When a recipe calls for “line a baking dish with parchment paper,” the easiest way to fit it is by first crumpling the parchment paper with your hand into the smallest ball possible. Now unfold the ball and the parchment paper will “magically” behave and stay in place when lining a baking dish.

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Crumple the parchment paper before lining the baking dish (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
Crumple the parchment paper before lining the baking dish (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Place the whole cauliflower in a parchment lined baking dish and bake in the oven at 450°F (place the oven rack one level above the middle so the cauliflower can brown) for about 45 minutes (until fork tender).

 

Slice into chunks and season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)
(Photo by Erich Boenzli)

What makes this dish really interesting is the use of good ingredients. Even a perfectly roasted cauliflower won’t have that much flavor. Most people call the flavor of cauliflower “slightly sweet and nutty with a bitter undertone.” That bitter undertone comes from overcooking. Slightly sweet and nutty are very subtle. 

 

Here is where great salt comes into play. A fresh, flaky sea salt added just before serving will elevate a simple dish like this quite a few notches. It’s no coincidence that a lot of chefs use Maldon Sea Salt for this finishing touch. 

 

Quote: Cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education ~ Mark Twain

 

A couple cranks of tellicherry pepper and a drizzle of your best extra-virgin olive oil and you’ve just created a memorable dish with cauliflower and three ingredients!

 

Love delicious food? Check out a few more of our recipes now!

 

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Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Simple and uber-versatile cauliflower rice (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice and oven roasted cauliflower are two ways to make your cauliflower shine. Both let the subtle sweet and nutty flavors stand out.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
Total Time 15 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (1-1/2 lb) head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 leek, finely chopped (about 1/2 c)
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper (more to taste)
  • 1/2 c flat leaf Italian parsley, roughly chopped

Instructions
 

  • Cut cauliflower into chunks, rinse in colander, and pat dry.
  • Pulse in the food processor for about 20 seconds.
  • Over medium-high heat, heat up extra-vigin olive oil and sauté a finely chopped leek for 2 minutes.
  • Add uncooked cauliflower rice and stir occasionally for about 4 minutes. If you cook the cauliflower rice for too long it’ll become a) mushy and b) bitter.
  • Season with ¼ tsp each of salt and pepper. Toward the end, stir in parsley. Taste and re-season as necessary. Serve and garnish with some extra parsley.

 

Cauliflower Rice and Oven Roasted Cauliflower - Deliciously creamy oven roasted cauliflower (Photo by Erich Boenzli)

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

Cauliflower rice and oven roasted cauliflower are two ways to make your cauliflower shine. Both let the subtle sweet and nutty flavors stand out.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 5 mins

Ingredients
  

  • 1 (1-1/2 lb) head of cauliflower
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper (more to taste)

Instructions
 

  • Start by bringing a pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Cut cauliflower flush at the stem with the rest of the head and place the whole cauliflower in the boiling water, upside down (including leaves), and reduce to a simmer.
  • Let it simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes. Then remove from the water and wait for the steam to dissipate.
  • Pour some olive oil into your hands and rub the cauliflower with it.
  • Place whole cauliflower in a parchment-lined baking dish and bake in the oven at 450°F (place the oven rack one level above the middle so the cauliflower can brown) for about 45 minutes (until fork tender).
  • Slice into chunks and season with salt and pepper and a sprinkle of your best extra-virgin olive oil. Serve and enjoy!

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