After tasting this recipe, you’ll never look at cauliflower the same way again. By roasting it, the cauliflower becomes amazingly sweet. I like to let it get a little brown and almost crunchy around the edges to play with the different textures and flavors of the vegetable: brown and roasted on the outside and meltingly tender on the inside. The addition of breadcrumbs and fried herbs adds great texture and fragrance to the dish. To my mind, the crunch of homemade breadcrumbs takes this dish to the next level. This recipe makes about four cups of breadcrumbs, more than you will need, but they keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week and are delicious on pastas, salads, and in salsa verde. —Elena Goldblatt
1 1/4 pounds
day-old country bread, crusts removed
extra-virgin olive oil
large cauliflower (about 2 pounds), sliced 1/2-inch thick lengthwise
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
large rosemary sprigs, needles removed (about 1 cup needles)
Use a food processor to chop the bread into pebble-sized breadcrumbs.
Toss the breadcrumbs with 1/3 cup olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Spread the breadcrumbs into an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring and checking every 5 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are perfectly golden brown, about 25 to 35 minutes.
Raise the oven temperature to 350º F. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower with the remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Scatter the cauliflower evenly on a baking sheet and roast for about 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes, or until it is soft, browned and slightly caramelized.
Put the vegetable oil in a small high-sided pot over medium heat. Make sure the oil does not come more than half way up the sides of the pot. When the oil reaches 350ºF, carefully lower the rosemary needles into the oil and fry them for about 45 seconds, or until the sizzling has reduced (this will happen very quickly) and the needles are crunchy. Quickly remove the needles using a slotted spoon and drain the rosemary on paper towels.
Combine 1 ½ cups of the breadcrumbs and fried rosemary, mixing well and crumbling the two together with your hands. Top the cauliflower with the breadcrumbs and the fried rosemary and serve immediately.