A seasonal manager for the Inwood Greenmarket in New York City asked me to do a culinary demo on cauliflower. I hadn't cooked the vegetable since I tried to make an Indian dish a long time ago. I looked up a lot of recipes, like the one in The Essential New York Times Cookbook to find out how to properly roast cauliflower. From there, I added apple because I wanted something sweet to go along with the vegetable. Then I added rosemary and thyme. When I ate the roasted cauliflower and apple, it still needed something more. At the time, I had been interning at Roberta's, a restaurant and pizzeria in Brooklyn, where white balsamic vinegar is used on salads. I drizzled the light vinegar over the vegetable and fruit and it made the dish pop. —J. A.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the core out of the cauliflower and then cut florets into 1/2-inch slices. Set aside 1/2 tablespoon each of rosemary and thyme for the apple chunks. Toss the cauliflower in olive oil and the remaining rosemary and thyme. Season the cauliflower with salt and freshly ground pepper.
In another bowl, toss the apple chunks in olive oil, salt, pepper and the herbs that were previously set aside.
Spread only the cauliflower on a sheet pan and roast in the oven for 25 minutes or until tender. After the cauliflower slices have been in the oven for 10-15 minutes, add the seasoned apple chunks to the pan and flip the cauliflower slices for even caramelization. (The apples would become mushy if cooked for 25 minutes.)
Season cauliflower and apple chunks with white balsamic vinegar to taste. Serve as a side.