Cook's Illustrated (January/February 2016)
We cook with it often. It's a great, healthy swap for carb-heavy sides like rice and potatoes.
But here's the thing with making cauliflower at home: It never seems as good as when we order it in a restaurant.
Sure, it's fine when we eat it at home. Perfectly OK. And we love the Cauliflower Rice we've written about before and have made dozens of times. It's still one of our frequent go-tos in the kitchen.
But roasted cauliflower we make at home never seems to stack up to restaurant-quality. What are restaurants doing different (other than, presumably, using a ton of butter and sugar)?
This recipe from Cook's Illustrated showed us the light: a cauliflower side dish that's restaurant-worthy, but easy to make at home.
This dish is made entirely in a stovetop skillet, providing a more direct heat than oven-roasting and allowing the florets to get perfectly golden brown without getting mushy.
The end result is lovely, brightened with a finish of lemon zest and fresh parsley. The toasty breadcrumbs are a nice finish as well. (And yeah, sprinkling this with breadcrumbs somewhat undercuts the non-carb-heavy aspects of cauliflower. But we found that sprinkling just a little -- far less than what this recipe actually calls for -- was still immensely satisfying.
We will absolutely be making this dish again, the very next time we want restaurant-level side dish at home.
Got a cauliflower trick up your sleeve? Please share it with us!
For the first 5 minutes of cooking, the cauliflower steams in its own released moisture, so it is important not to lift the lid from the skillet during this time. You’ll only need one-half head of cauliflower for this recipe. Before cutting the head in half, trim the outer leaves and cut the stem flush with the bottom of the head. Reserve the other half for another use.
Cut cauliflower into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Cut around core to remove florets; discard core. Cut large florets into 1½-inch pieces. Transfer florets to bowl, including any small pieces that may have been created during trimming, and set aside.
Pulse bread in food processor to coarse crumbs, about 10 pulses. Heat bread crumbs, 1 tablespoon oil, pinch salt, and pinch pepper in 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until bread crumbs are golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer crumbs to bowl and wipe out skillet.
Combine 1 tablespoon oil and cauliflower florets in now-empty skillet and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cover skillet and cook over medium-high heat until florets start to brown and edges just start to become translucent (do not lift lid), about 5 minutes.
Remove lid and continue to cook, stirring every 2 minutes, until florets turn golden brown in many spots, about 12 minutes.
Push cauliflower to edges of skillet. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil, garlic, and lemon zest to center and cook, stirring with rubber spatula, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir garlic mixture into cauliflower and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is tender but still firm, about 3 minutes longer.
Remove skillet from heat and stir in parsley. Transfer cauliflower to serving platter and sprinkle with bread crumbs. Serve, passing lemon wedges separately.