When Mother Nature gives you a gift like cauliflower in these gorgeous colors, don’t try to out-do what she has done. Don’t try to get all foodie-fancy and muck around with something that is already so beautiful and inherently nutritious. Put down that cookbook and step away from your whisk: all you need is a big bowl, a shallow baking sheet pan, good olive oil, salt, pepper and your oven.
Cauliflower in these vivid colors makes a brief appearance in farmer’s markets and some grocery stores in early fall; then we have the equally delicious but not-nearly-as-pretty white cauliflower until next year. (I prepare white cauliflower in exactly the same way, although I tend to be more liberal with the black pepper).
To roast and not steam the cauliflower, be sure to keep it in a single layer in the pan. Also, keep the florets fairly uniform in size to ensure they cook evenly.
You need only enough oil to lightly coat the florets. Measure the oil if you watch calories– 1 tablespoon for a small head of cauliflower does the job. If you don’t measure, I guarantee you use more…but again, that only matters if you want to limit your calories.
3 small heads cauliflower, about 12 cups of 2-inch florets
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Coat a large flat baking sheet (or two) with cooking spray.
2. Toss the cauliflower with the oil. When evenly coated, toss with the salt and pepper. Spread out in an even, uncrowded layer on the baking sheet(s) and roast until lightly browned and crisp-tender, about 15-17 minutes. To test for doneness, either poke a piece all the way through with a fork, or bite into one. (I always prefer the latter).
Yields about 8 cups
Nutritional analysis per cup: 87 calories, 3 g protein, 8 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 193 mg sodium