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The Kitchn: This simple method makes perfect roasted cauliflower

Meghan Splawn, TheKitchn.com on

Roasted cauliflower is a favorite side dish in my house. The hot oven renders the cauliflower supple and golden-brown, giving it both a caramel color and sweet, nutty flavor. The best part of roasting cauliflower is that it requires almost zero hands-on cooking and can easily be flavored with warm spices or aromatic garlic. And if you’ve ever cooked roasted vegetables before, this isn’t too different.

Beyond a side dish (it’s a natural partner to juicy pork chops, chicken thighs, and mac and cheese), roasted cauliflower makes an excellent addition to salads, pastas, and stir fries, and can be turned into a quick and creamy soup post-roasting. Here’s how to do it.

5 tips for the best roasted cauliflower

Some universal truths of roasting other cruciferous vegetables (or any vegetable, for that matter) ring true for cauliflower too: Preheat your oven, use some kind of oil or fat, avoid overcrowding the pan, and roast the vegetables cut-side down for maximum browning.

These tips will give you the best roasted cauliflower every time.

1. Use high heat. The minimum temperature for roasting vegetables is 400 F. Give your oven plenty of time to preheat to ensure that it’s hot and ready for roasting.

 

2. Cut into small florets. Yes, you can roast a whole cauliflower or even cauliflower steaks, but to make this a super-speedy side, use bite-sized pieces that are roughly the size of halved florets. (More on how to break down a whole head of cauliflower below.)

3. Season in a bowl. Many cooks prefer to use their baking sheet for oiling and seasoning vegetables, but a bowl does a better job of ensuring well-seasoned and well-cooked vegetables. As much as I dislike dirtying another dish, using a bowl to coat the cauliflower with olive oil and salt makes for a better finished product.

4. Place cut-side down. The cut side is nice and flat, making direct contact with the baking sheet and giving more surface area for delicious browning.

5. Roast until brown and delicious. You might be tempted to pull your cauliflower from the oven just when it is tender, but your patience will be rewarded if you wait until the cauliflower gets darker and more caramelized in the oven.

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