Can we talk about cauliflower leaves for a second?
Historically, I've thrown them out, or when I'm mindful added them to a stock pot. I've never been served them at a restaurant. I've never had a friend cook them for me. But a while back after reading enough Dan Barber, Tamar Adler, Deborah Madison, and Alice Waters I started to think about cooking cauliflower leaves. Then I saw this article. The thing is, neither I nor thekitchn invented roasted cauliflower leaves, but when you make them for the first time if feels like a crazy new world discovery.
The other week at the farmers' market I stopped by the Finley Farms Stand (so good!). They had the most beautiful, delicate, tiny little cauliflower heads. Each one was about the size of a baseball and covered with beautiful bright green delicate leaves.
One of the women who worked at the stand and I talked about roasting the leaves... she always does it and she described how they turn kind of "marshmallowy" when cooked. The thick stems do have this amazing soft texture when roasted, and they are rich and sweet in flavor. But the leaves! They get crispy, peppery, and brown and taste better than any kale "chip" I've ever had.
You can roast them alongside the cauliflower (I like cutting the cauliflower into neat flat cross-sections about 1/4-1/2-inch thick, as opposed to florets... they caramelize beautifully and evenly this way - see above photo). Or you can roast them separately. If roasted together you should keep an eye on the leafy parts... the leaves cook more quickly than the florets. You may need to remove them from the pan while the rest of the cauliflower cooks... but also burnt leaves are kind of the best.
For these to taste delicious all they need is salt, pepper, and a generous amount of oil.
Roasted Cauliflower & Roasted Cauliflower Leaves
however much cauliflower you like, leaves still on heads
cauliflower leaves independently of the cauliflower they hailed from
generous drizzles of olive oil or melted coconut oil
generous sprinkle of salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Cut up your cauliflower and cauliflower leaves into even-sized pieces. You can do these at any thickness or size... but you want them as even as possible so that they all roast at the same rate.
On a parchment lined-sheet pan (or two) evenly spread out the cauliflower/cauliflower leaves. Make sure they are not too crowded and they'll brown better that way. Generously drizzle them with your preferred oil. Toss with your hands. You want them to be evenly coated with the oil, glistening. Generously season with salt and pepper. Roast for 10 minutes. Check on them, flip them over, rotate the pan and let them roast until they are golden brown, roughly another 5-10 minutes (it depends on your cauliflower so check on it every 5 minutes or so. Serve immediately or even at room temp.