Clean. White. Simple. Tasty. One of my favorite vegetables is cauliflower. Both because there’s so much you can do with it (deep-fried in beer-batter, for example), and yet, it’s the best when it’s plain and simple.
Baking a whole cauliflower is a simple, yet tricky process. If you just throw it to the oven, it will stay hard. So you must cook it a bit before. But if you cook it too much, it gets soggy and falls apart. And you want it right in that exact texture where its slightly soft and yet remains firm and keeps all its fresh flavor.
First step will be buying a cauliflower. To make the best whole baked cauliflower you need a rather small one, and it has to be very fresh. To make sure it is as fresh as you want it it must be completely white, the florets should be firm and closely attached to one another and the leaves should look fresh and green. Generally, I love the leaves on the sides of the cauliflower, and I leave them on in this recipe. Anyway, if the cauliflower you buy has no leaves, they were probably taken off because they were old. Then, it might work for other recipes, not here.
Then – cooking. Start by picking a pot which is high enough and not to wide. Then, boil water and add salt. Quite some salt. You don’t add any salt later so the water here should be the final saltiness injection of your cauliflower. If you want to be exact (I don’t measure) it’s 10 grams per 1 liter of water. When the salt water boils, you add the cauliflower, stem down and florets up, make sure it is completely immersed, and you leave it there for several minutes, around five, depends on the size and how fresh it is. It should remain firm, just a tiny bit softer. Whatever you do, don’t poke it with a fork to flip it or take it out.
After you take it out, leave it on an oven plate to release some steam and dry a bit. Around 10-15 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat the oven to 220 degrees, no turbo. Then, rub your hands with olive oil and massage it into the florets. repeat 2-3 times. the florets should be nicely oiled but it shouldn’t sink in it.
Then – over a sheet of baking paper and to the oven. Just like that. Until the florets get golden. You can make any kind of seasoning or dip you want. Most simple would be like that, maybe with a bit of lemon. But the best, would be with tahini, tomatoes and chilies. After it cools, you can cut down florets and fry with olive oil, and serve over a plate of tahini with spicy tomato salad, or with all of those in a pita.