The most frequently-asked question I get about food and cooking is: How do you get such nice color on your roasted cauliflower? It's consistently the no. 1 message in my Instagram DMs, and with good reason! Aggressively browned cauliflower is delicious and snackable. Soggy, white cauliflower looks like brains and probably doesn't even taste as good. So here are 5 tips for the best goddamn cauliflower of your life.
1. Cut it in slabs, not florets.
It's science (or math? idk): More surface area means more opportunity for browning. The pan you're roasting in is hotter than the air circulating around the veggies, so it will behoove you to get as much of that cauliflower directly on the pan. Cutting it in flat slabs, rather than rounded florets, will solve this issue.
2. Use A LOT of fat.
Whether you cook your cauli in coconut oil, olive oil, butter, lard, whatevs... use a lot of it. Fat browns better and more efficiently than a dry veggie (which pretty much just turns to charcoal ash when put under high heat). For further proof that fat is ideal for browning, just take a peek at the beautifully-darkened, butter-packed pastries at your local French bakery.
3. Start high, then bump the oven temp down.
Starting the roast at an high temperature will make quick work of the browning process. If you've greased your cauli up with plenty of fat (see no. 2), you won't be in any danger of burning it. Every oven is different — and most aren't accurate — but for educational purposes, I like to start at 425 for about 7 minutes, flip the slabs, then bump the heat to 375 until they're done cooking.
4. Use a cast-iron pan.
Cast-iron retains heat better than pretty much... anything, so that means when it gets screaming hot, it stays screaming hot. Remember: Screaming hot = better browning. The trick here: Don't place the raw cauliflower in a cold pan, then place that in the oven. Preheat the pan in the oven, and carefully remove it when hot. Add the veggies to the hot pan, then place it back in the oven. This helps the caulif eke out every last bit of fiery goodness from its spin in the oven.
5. Cheat a little and use turmeric or curry powder.
They don't call turmeric the golden root for nothin', people. I rarely roast a head of cauliflower without a generous sprinkle of ground turmeric. The fact that it's super yummy and an anti-inflammatory doesn't hurt, either.
Now go forth and roast!