I’m a bit of a promiscuous reader.* I start books, and finish them months later. I have a stack of books five thick next to my bed. Some are fiction, while others are a mash of various commentaries and cookbooks.
I tend to envelop myself in a book; to completely surround myself in it; to snuggle in and make myself at home for a good half- to two-thirds in.
Then I get distracted or pulled away or otherwise occupied and that beloved, well love book is suddenly thrust aside, until that day I find it again and fall in love all over again and lose myself within its words.
Such was the case with Tamar Adler’s An Everlasting Meal. I read nearly half, then, work and life nosed its way in and it was but a whisper in the back of my mind. Ordinarily, when I switch books mid-read, I don’t think of them until I find said book, dust covered at the bottom of some impossibly tall book-pile. But this one, stuck with me.
I found myself, at the most obscure times, thinking back to spending an entire day roasting vegetables. Or the proper way to cook an egg. Or boil a chicken. Or what to do with a pot of beans.
As life rolled on, the book was there.
So when thinking what to do with these vibrant little plants, my mind immediate dove into chapter three: How to Stride Ahead.
Could there be a more true sign? A more auspicious beginning? How to stride ahead: Roast. Let the heat of a hot oven transform a rather odd looking, plain shrub into sweet and smoky, intensely rich, and slightly blistered.
Adler has a way with words that pulls you in and bastes you with the comfort of a home filled with the flavors and scents of a market’s bounty roasting away. She writes not only of the food and how to best prepare it, but about our relationship with food and how we connect with it on a more personal, intimate level.
In a series of
essays conversations, both lyrical and economical in itself, she exalts the humble beet green and the often otherwise ostentatious homemade mayonnaise and aioli. They exist together, neither more than the other.
So – I trimmed and rinsed, sliced and quartered. Turned my oven high and oiled and seasoned.
While they would have been equally divine alone – bare but for the lightest sprinkle of crunchy salt and spicy pepper – these received the slightest taste of dressing.
The remainders packed away for another meal.
* to borrow a phrase from The New Yorker
Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Mustard Sauce
Serves 4-6, as a side
From Bon Appetit, 2006
1 head cauliflower (I used 1/2 head each purple and green, sometimes sold as “broccoflower”)
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 Tablespoons whole grain mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 1 medium lemon)
1 Tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Trim the leaves and excess core away from the cauliflower and rinse well under running water. Cut the cauliflower in half and then into 1/4 inch thick slices, quartering them if needed. Arrange the cauliflower in a single layer on the parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Coat thoroughly. Roast the cauliflower for 15 minutes. Flip the cauliflower and set the tray aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Whisk in the lemon juice, mustard, and zest.
Lightly spoon the lemon-mustard sauce over the cauliflower and return it to the oven for 10 minutes more, or until nicely browned, but not burnt.
Sprinkle with the chopped fresh parsley and serve warm or at room temperature.