Years ago, I was attempting to reverse my daughter’s disdain for cauliflower. She was always my veggie- loving kiddo, so I was stumped by her dislike of one my favorites. Who doesn’t love roasted cauliflower florets, with those crispy caramelized golden edges?
She loved artichoke — pulling apart the leaves and scraping them on her teeth. So why not create a pull-apart version of cauliflower?
I roasted it whole on a lower temperature (about 350 degrees) for nearly an hour, and then pumped up the heat to 400 degrees for some browning. I then seasoned the whole head of cauliflower with a little lemon butter or cheese. The idea worked: all four of my kids had fun pulling apart the cauliflower, eating little florets like finger food.
Cauliflower has since morphed from dinner to movie-night snack food, alongside popcorn. The recipe has changed a little: I’ve found that steaming the cauliflower first cuts the cooking time in half and the florets are easier to pull apart.
I’ve also upped my seasoning, slathering on a garlicky cheese mixture spiked with just a touch of hot sauce to remind me of the buffalo wings of my college days.
The buttery and cheesy coating packs a high-calorie punch, but each serving has relatively little of it, so healthy eating goals stay on track. And while we’re enjoying movie-time or game-time nibbles, it’s nice to know that we’re actually getting a little nutrition in our bodies, too.
CHEESY PULL-APART WHOLE CAULIFLOWER
By Melissa D’Arabian
- 1 medium head of cauliflower (about 1-1/2 pounds), trimmed
- >> Coating:
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce or buffalo sauce
Turn cauliflower upside down and gently cut out bulk of the core, leaving a triangle-shaped indentation at bottom.
Add an inch of salted water to a large pot and bring to boil. Place cauliflower in pot and cover; steam cauliflower until tender but still firm, 7-10 minutes, depending on size. Test with a slim, sharp knife. Remove cauliflower from pot and place on paper towels to cool.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking pan with foil or parchment.
In a small bowl, combine coating ingredients.
Blot cooled cauliflower with paper towels. Coat with cheesy mixture, using hands to cover the whole head. Place on prepared pan. Bake until cauliflower is golden brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool a few minutes. Serve with forks or as finger food. Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional information, per serving: 67 calories, 5 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 7 mg cholesterol, 136 mg sodium, 4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 2 g sugar, 2 g protein.