Food & dining

Thanksgiving recipes 2017

Recipe: Here’s something for the holiday with a wow factor: a golden, whole roasted cauliflower

Whole roasted cauliflower with gremolata breadcrumbs
Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe
Whole roasted cauliflower with gremolata breadcrumbs

Serves 4

A whole cauliflower burnished in the oven until it turns a deep copper color has a formidable wow factor. First steam it in a skillet on top of the stove to get the cooking started — dome it with foil to make a lid — then drizzle with plenty of olive oil and salt and transfer to the oven. The heat transforms the plain white vegetable into an edible work of art. When it’s hot, sprinkle with crispy breadcrumbs mixed into a kind of gremolata with grainy mustard, parsley, lemon, and capers. Carve into wedges at the table.

Oil (for the baking sheet)
1large cauliflower
Salt and pepper, to taste
5tablespoons olive oil
cups soft breadcrumbs (white or whole wheat)
1tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
3tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2tablespoons capers, drained and patted dry

1. Set the oven at 400 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet. Have on hand 2 to 3 large pieces of foil.

2. Remove and discard the large outer leaves of the cauliflower, but keep some of the smaller leaves, which become crispy in the oven. With a large knife, trim the stem flush with the bottom of the head so the cauliflower sits flat when upright and the stem remains intact.


3. In a large, deep skillet over high heat, bring ½ inch of salted water to a boil. Lower the cauliflower into the skillet with the stem side down. Lower the heat to a gentle boil. Use 2 to 3 pieces of foil to make a dome over the cauliflower, pinching the edges to secure them to the rim of the skillet. Steam for 18 minutes or until it is partially cooked. Use oven mitts to carefully remove the foil to prevent steam burns. Test the cauliflower with a skewer; when you insert it into the middle it should feel some resistance.

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4. With 2 large spatulas, transfer the cauliflower to the baking sheet. Brush with 3 tablespoons of the oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast for 35 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking, or until the cauliflower is golden brown. Transfer to a serving platter.

5. Meanwhile, make the crumbs: In a large skillet over medium heat, toast breadcrumbs with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes, or until they are golden. Remove the pan. Stir in the mustard, mixing until it coats the crumbs. Stir in the lemon rind, parsley, and capers. Sprinkle over the cauliflower and serve the rest separately. Sally Pasley Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas can be reached at