You can make a lot of great things in a toaster oven. Break and bake cookie dough is awesome if you have the patience to make three cookies at a time and if you pick up a tiny baking dish at Ikea then you can make mini-batches of brownies.
What doesn’t work so well is raw cauliflower florets and gruyere cheese. The kitchenette in my apartment junior year of college had a two burner stove top, a tiny fridge, and my roommate and I added the aforementioned toaster oven.
While she watched the Red Sox win the World Series in her bedroom I would play little miss gourmet in our living room/kitchen. I don’t ever remember having a strong urge to eat cauliflower before I got the toaster oven but I was very diligent when it came to recipes back then and did not think subbing out cauliflower in a recipe for roasted cauliflower with gruyere was acceptable.
I think I chopped the whole head up and jammed it on a baking sheet the size of a large envelope. There was no way one floret would have roasted in that twenty dollar toaster oven, so a whole heads worth basically steamed and emitted a disgusting sulfur smell. I then covered up the steamy cauliflower with grated gruyere, which is also not very subtle smelling in large quantities.
In between cheering and screaming at her tiny tv, I distinctly remember my roommate bursting into the living room with her Red Sox hat on demanding to know what the hell smelled so bad.
“It’s roasted cauliflower with gruyere,” I shouted back, deeply offended that she didn’t realize I was basically Ina fucking Garten.
The steamed cauliflower tasted pretty good when you didn’t actively breathe in. Anything with a half pound of gruyere is gonna be tasty. But I think the roommate banned me from ever making it again.
I still like roasting cauliflower but a full-size oven and larger baking sheets keeps things from getting too odorous. I spied a recipe for roasted cauliflower with gremolata bread crumbs from The Thin Chef on Food52 and chopped up a head of cauliflower. I like the clean flavor of parsley in tabbouleh so I upped the amount of green from 2 tablespoons to two cups.
Instead of a sprinkling, my gremolata became more a of a dressing. I dropped the panko and added red pepper flakes to help cut through the cauliflower. While this dressing got tossed with roasted cauliflower I could see the bright mix working on all sorts of roasted vegetables, broccoli immediately comes to mind. It’s somehow less offensive to some people than cauliflower.
- One small head of cauliflower, 5 cups roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 large lemon, 1 tbs zest and 3 tbs juice
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, 1 tbs chopped
- 2 cups of loosely packed parsley, stems removed
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Remove leaves and tough core of cauliflower
- Roughly chop the head of cauliflower, you'll need about 5 cups
- On a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, toss the cauliflower with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/2 tsp of kosher salt and 1/4 tsp black pepper. If you double the recipe or if the cauliflower looks tightly packed on one sheet spread the mix to two baking sheets. You want the cauliflower to roast and brown, instead of steam
- Roast for 20-25 minutes until the florets pick up some caramelization. Toss the cauliflower halfway throw cooking so each side gets a chance to brown
- In the bowl you plan on serving the cauliflower, mix the rest of the olive oil, 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons, with the red pepper flakes
- Zest and juice the lemon. You want to add 1 tablespoon of zest and 3 tablespoons of juice to the dressing
- Finely chop garlic and add 1 tablespoon to dressing
- Remove the tough stems from the parsley and chop until the leaves are finely milled
- Fold the parsley into the dressing, mix and taste for seasoning. Add salt and pepper to taste or add more red pepper flakes
- Add the roasted cauliflower to the parsley dressing and toss to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.