Serious Eats: Recipes

Meat Lite: Spaghetti with Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon Herbed Breadcrumbs

[Photograph: Tara Mataraza Desmond]

If you swear you hate cauliflower, you're probably wrong. I know, it seems out of line for me to accuse you of not knowing your own palate, but I'd be willing to bet that were a scientific study done on taste for cauliflower, it would reveal that the majority of people who "hate" it would actually like it—if it were prepared differently.

Most people have been subject to boiled cauliflower, which turns into an overcooked mush made doubly unpleasant by the trademark sulphurous stink of the cruciferous family of veggies. Roasting cauliflower deepens the flavors, caramelizes the florets and maintains texture.

In this recipe, roasted cauliflower gets tangled up in spaghetti, spiked with a few bits of bacon, and further jazzed with crunchy, garlicky panko breadcrumbs. The sauce shows the difference a good, homemade stock can have on a dish. Since this is the season for roasting giant pieces of meat, put the remnants to good use (turkey, chicken, duck, ham) in a pot that yields rich, viscous stock. The liquid gold becomes a sturdy backdrop to soups and sauces. Big batches can be frozen in smaller servings for use in the months ahead. Vegetable broth can certainly be used, but will lack the body of liquids fortified with collagen and gelatin from meat and bones.

Cauliflower color and types vary from the most-recognized white to the uniquely spikey green Romanesco. The orange and purple varieties, which I used here, are said to be higher in vitamin content than their white cousins. Preparation methods are consistent regardless of the variety.

I recently made dinner for friends and took the risk of serving roasted cauliflower. All three would have aligned with the anti-cauliflower camp before. All three had seconds and asked for the recipe. Aren't taste turnarounds the best?

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