Cauliflower Cake


I wasn’t allowed to be a picky eater as a kid. If I complained or refused to eat my meal, I was…convinced to finish what was on my plate (let’s just say that there were threats of the wooden spoon coming out of the drawer). Not that I, or my sister, were bad eaters. We ate almost everything even though we liked some dishes less than others. There were, however, a handful of foods I was allowed to refuse, because my parents recognized that no matter what punishment I was threatened with, my revulsion was too strong to eat them. A few times I threw up the offending foods and that cemented their fate. There was tahini (which I can’t stand to this day), dried fava beans with spinach (cooked spinach still makes me gag), and black eyed peas. I was allowed to eat something else when they were on the table.DSC04208

On the other hand, one thing I always loved was cauliflower. My mom always made it the same way: stewed in a tomato sauce. I loved the texture and the taste and to this day, it’s my go to vegetable. I usually just cut it up, toss it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast it in a 425º F oven until it caramelizes. We usually eat it tossed with the simple garlic lime vinaigrette that makes everything better.

When I saw the recipe for this savory cauliflower cake, I knew I had to try it and it didn’t disappoint. Not only is it a beautiful looking cake, but it has a lovely light taste (that even cauliflower haters could like) and a texture that’s not too dense but substantial enough to be satisfying. It makes a fantastic brunch dish, along with a green salad on the side. DSC04217

Cauliflower Cake – Slightly adapted from The Kitchn (Originally from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi)


1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch florets (about 4 cups)
1 medium red onion, peeled (6 ounces)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary
7 large eggs
1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/3 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Parmesan or another aged cheese
Melted unsalted butter or vegetable oil, for brushing
2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (or more white sesame seeds)
Salt and black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.

Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch/5-mm thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth (but don’t overmix) before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.

Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch/24-cm springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter or oil, then mix together the sesame seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides (this is optional, you can skip it if you want, but it does look beautiful when you unmold the cake). Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It should be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.

Cauliflower Parmesan

DSC03825 Damn you Melissa Clark and your beguiling ways in the kitchen! I mean, come on! How do you expect us to watch you making this cauliflower parmesan, with such ease and with your trademark witty humor and not expect us to rush out and buy the necessary ingredients to make it at home? Such seducing tactics in front of a camera and in a kitchen should be illegal.DSC03816 Seriously, though. I never thought that such a thing could even exist. I’ve had eggplant parmesan and chicken parmesan and I like both of them but they often tend to be too greasy and too heavy. One of those meals that you think you definitely want to eat but that you regret the moment you finish the last bite. But cauliflower? It’s perfect. It doesn’t absorb much oil, unlike eggplant that sucks up every last drop when you fry it, and it’s not chicken, that could end up rubbery or tough. Cauliflower retains its own crispy snap but it’s enveloped in crunchy breadcrumbs that provide that brilliant counterpoint to the cheese and tomato sauce that makes a parmesan dish so irresistible. And you, Melissa Clark? You’ve won. I’m already drooling over those lemon bars with olive oil and sea salt that you have once again bewitched me with.DSC03818Cauliflower Parmesan – Adapted from the New York Times

Note: If you don’t have time or the inclination to make your own tomato sauce, use your favorite brand. Avoid anything that has too many strong flavors, like olives or artichokes. Just a simple marinara sauce, with tomatoes and basil is perfect. You will need the equivalent of 5 cups, so about 40 oz.


2 28oz cans of crushed or diced tomatoes
¼ cup olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly smashed with side of knife
1 onion, peeled and cut in half
2 large sprigs of basil
2-3 large sprigs of fresh oregano (optional)
4 tablespoons butter

½ cup all-purpose flour
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups panko or plain unseasoned bread crumbs
Kosher salt, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 2-inch florets
Olive oil, for frying
1 cup fresh, finely grated Parmesan, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano
½ pound fresh mozzarella, torn into bite-size pieces


First make the sauce. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir occasionally until garlic is golden brown. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, bring to a brisk simmer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Discard onion, garlic and herb sprigs. Taste the sauce and season it with salt to your liking. Make ahead: Sauce can be prepared up to three days ahead and kept in the fridge, covered.

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Place flour, eggs and panko into three wide, shallow bowls. Season each generously with salt and pepper. Be really generous with the salt and pepper. Only a tiny bit will end up on the cauliflower. Dip a cauliflower piece first in flour, then eggs, then coat with panko. Repeat with remaining cauliflower. Place each piece of breaded cauliflower on a large baking sheet.

Fill a large skillet with about 1/2-inch olive oil. Place over medium-high heat. When oil is hot, fry cauliflower in batches, turning halfway through, until golden brown. Transfer fried cauliflower pieces to a paper towel-lined baking sheet. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. Sprinkle one-third of the grated Parmesan over sauce. Scatter half of the cauliflower over the Parmesan and top with half the mozzarella pieces. Top with half the remaining sauce, sprinkle with another third of the Parmesan and repeat layering, ending with a final layer of sauce and Parmesan.

Transfer pan to oven and bake uncovered until cheese is has melted and casserole is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Let cool a few minutes before serving.

Roasted Vegetables

Why do people insist on boiling vegetables? Is it because they think it’s easier than cooking them any other way? Or is it because they can’t use their oven due to the shoes they keep in there (you’d be amazed the things people store in their unused ovens in New York apartments)? Why do we accept bland, boiled vegetables when there is a simple and easy way to make them delicious?


Nothings makes a vegetable better than roasting it at high temperature. Whatever it is, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, asparagus, you name it. It will soften but its edges with crisp up and caramelize. It will become something you and your kids want to have more of, not something they have to negotiate over not eating it.


It couldn’t be simpler. There’s no recipe here. Just high heat and a little olive oil.

Take the vegetable. Cut in roughly equally sized pieces and put in a large bowl. Add  a good amount of olive oil, some salt, some pepper. Toss with your hands until every piece is coated with oil. Spread on a baking sheet (don’t crowd the veggies because they’ll steam; use two sheets if you have too much) and cook in 425° F oven, tossing once or twice, until brown in spots and nicely roasted. Serve alone or with your favorite dressing (like thai chili vinaigrette or lime garlic vinaigrette). Alternatively, mash the vegetable (like roasted butternut squash) or blend it with some vegetable stock if you want soup (like roasted asparagus).

See? Super simple.

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