Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn

Roasted Cauliflower Popcorn Recipe

Between the spicy cauliflower side dish I had earlier in the week at Pizzeria Delfina, and the Pan Roasted Cauliflower recipe that caught my attention in Molly and Fran's latest book, I've been thinking about cauliflower a bit...and that is where this roasted cauliflower popcorn recipe come in.

Let me start by telling you about the cauliflower at Pizzeria Delfina. It is browned and tender, punctuated with a healthy dose of capers, garlic, and Calabrian chiles. Is it roasted? Baked (possibly in the pizza oven)? Not sure, definitely not grilled. Anyhow, it is very good and as I was enjoying a small plate of it I was thinking that the little florets were very popcorn-like in shape. Fun.

Apparently (to my surprise) I'm not the only one who has had this revelation. My hopes of doing an original post featuring some sort of remix of cauliflower as popcorn were trashed with a single Google search. Was I the only one who has never heard of this?

So, here is my take on cauliflower 'popcorn'...I'm a little less excited about it now that I know its not exactly a fresh concept. That being said, it still tastes really good, takes under five minutes of active cooking time, and with everyone getting sick this time of year it is a delicious way to load up on a super healthy cruciferous vegetable.

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Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

4-inch segment of a thin day-old baguette
1 medium head of cauliflower, washed
extra-virgin olive oil
scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 fresh red chile pepper, minced

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and place racks in the middle.

Give the baguette a spin in a food processor until you have textured, not-too-fine bread crumbs.

Trim the cauliflower. Get rid of the big stalks and stems and strive for uniform, bite-sized little florets. Little trees.

In a big bowl toss the cauliflower with a few generous tablespoons of olive oil and the salt. Toss until the cauliflower is well coated and then place it in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. You are going to bake for about 25-30 minutes total.

There will be some residual olive oil in the big bowl you used to toss the cauliflower. If not, add another tablespoon or two. Add the bread crumbs, garlic, and chiles. Mix.

After the cauliflower has been baking for about 15-20 minutes anything in contact with the pan should be nicely browned. Pull the pan out of the oven, rotate each piece of cauliflower so that another side will get some color, and then sprinkle the entire pan with the breadcrumb mixture. Return the pan to the oven and finish with another ten minutes or so. The cauliflower should be tender throughout and the breadcrumbs nicely toasted. Serve immediately, it really isn't half as delicious after it has been sitting on the counter getting cold.

If you want to work the popcorn angle, serve in little cups. Or I've even seen little, mini, paper popcorn containers at party stores. Kids seem more wiling try try good for you vegetables when you make them taste and smell really good and have some fun with the context.

Serves 4.

Variations:

- Sprinkle with dukkah as the cauliflower comes out of the oven instead of the garlic and chiles.

- Puree the roasted cauliflower (and crumbs) with some broth and a splash of cream for an easy soup.

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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