Here's a healthy vegetarian dish that takes minimal preparation. You can have this when you're abstaining from meat, like today, which is Good Friday, or even after Lent, when you just want to take a break from meat.
Cauliflowers are abundant and easily found in a supermarket near you, if you haven't stored a few heads in your refrigerator. It's a versatile vegetable that can become a star on its own, not just a side dish or even part of mixed vegetable sidings.
I first read about cauliflower having a moment in late 2016, dethroning then vegetable du jour, kale, thanks to Israeli celebrity chef Eyal Shani. His salted cauliflower head with olive oil became a sensation, heaped with praise by The New York Times, and was pretty much responsible for the expansion of his restaurants from Tel Aviv to New York, Paris and Vienna.
I hadn't really given it much thought then, until I was wandering along the streets of Le Marais in Paris with a friend in the summer of 2018 after lunch, and passed by Miznon, Shani's restaurant. The kitchen was closed as expected, to prepare for dinner service, but there were the stacks of cauliflower heads on the shelves, simple and natural. I wish I had gone back to try the signature dish, but I guess we can wait until we can all travel again.
Fast forward two years after, I was doing my weekly grocery run during the ECQ, and chanced upon a bed of bountiful cauliflower. What was I waiting for? Here's something I could try to cook and eat during Holy Week; maybe I could put a little twist to it?
There it was, sitting pretty. I chopped off the base and peeled off its leaves. Some herb and paprika seasoning would be nice to slather on the head. I was also craving for potatoes. Why not just cook both vegetable and root crop together in one pot? Then it hit me. The potato slices looked like petals if I arranged them around the base of the Dutch oven, with the flower head, being well, the cauliflower head. :)
Cooking time: 45 minutes
1 medium cauliflower head
Olive oil, generous amounts to slather on the vegetables and to coat the Dutch oven or heavy casserole pot
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon paprika
1 sprig of parsley, finely chopped
cauliflower leaves from when you peeled them off, finely chopped
2 teaspoons sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon red chilli pepper flakes
1. Pre-heat oven at 200 degrees Celsius. In a small bowl, toss in chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon rosemary, paprika, parsley, cauliflower leaves, a teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper flakes. Drizzle olive oil in and mix it. Brush cauliflower head with the seasoning, filling in top and sides.
While making the seasoning, before adding more olive oil
Make sure you "bathe" the cauliflower head with above seasoning
2. Slice potatoes thinly, leaving the skin on. Arrange them around the Dutch oven. Slather on generous amounts of olive oil. Then sprinkle the remaining rosemary, salt and pepper flakes on the potato slices.
3. Place cauliflower head at the center of the arrangement. Cover lid of Dutch oven then place the pot inside the preheated oven. Bake for 45 minutes.
4. Once baking time has ended, carefully remove the Dutch oven and place on a marble or wooden surface to cool. Lift lid and smell the whiff of olive oil and herbs. Cool for about 2 minutes then serve immediately.