Saturday, November 19, 2016

So-Easy Sides for a Thanksgiving Marathon: Day 1
What’s Cooking? Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Whipped Cheese Sauce

Every year, the Kitchen Goddess goes a little nuts trying to find new ways to fill your Thanksgiving plate with veggies. And last year, one of my friends pointed out that these ideas don’t actually emerge from the KG’s thought process until rather late in the game – the point at which you’ve already made many of those critical menu decisions, and the KG’s fabulous suggestions only muddy the waters. So this year, I thought I’d start waaay earlier. But you have to walk before you can run, and the word “early” has always been a bit problematic for me. So here we are a full two days before the usual launch point. It’s the best I could do this year.

I did have a focus this time around on dishes that will at least ease the stress level in your kitchen. No elaborate processes or hard-to-find ingredients, no unfamiliar terms, no special garnishes that require a trip to God-knows-where. And each a refreshing take on a veggie that will pique the interest of your Thanksgiving guests.

So without further ado, I present to you a whole cauliflower. Yessiree. You take that sucker, trim the leaves and stem, and roast it whole. But first, you give it a nice warm bath in wine and a bit of flavoring. Whew – you could make a sponge taste good with that bath. Okay, maybe not a sponge. But the cauliflower is tender and perfectly seasoned throughout. The subsequent roasting adds a browning and a bit of flavorful crust.  My skeptical hubby practically inhaled it.

And then there’s the cheese sauce. No cook-ee, no worry. Make the whole thing in a food processor, and drizzle a little olive oil on top. Serve at room temp. (If you don’t have a food processor, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s recipe.)

Kitchen Goddess note on cauliflower: Yes, it’s good for you, and a great low-fat, low-carb substitute for rice or potatoes. But did you know it’s also popular with mathematicians for its fractal dimension? (Careful what you’re thinking – the KG is a mathematician.) Uh-huh. That means two things. First, every branch, or “module,” is similar to the entire cauliflower. And then, as modules become more distant from the center, the angle between them is 360º divided by the golden ratio. Arent you glad you asked?

Back in the real world, here it is – the first of the Kitchen Goddess’s so-easy sides. It’s adapted from the pages of’s Genius Recipes, one of my new go-to sources. To help you have a happy, stress-free Thanksgiving!

Roasted Cauliflower with Tangy Whipped Cheese Sauce

Adapted from Alon Shaya in Food52’s Genius Recipes.

Serves 4-6.

For the cauliflower:
1 whole head cauliflower (white, orange, purple, or even a fantastic Romanesco)
6 cups water
2½ cups dry white wine
⅓ cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
¼ cup kosher salt
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Aleppo pepper (can substitute crushed red pepper flakes)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 large bay leaf

For the cheese sauce:
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
3 ounces cream cheese
3 ounces crumbled feta cheese
⅓ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
Finely ground salt such as sea salt or Maldon salt

Before you start on the cauliflower, take the three cheeses for the sauce out of the fridge and set them aside. And now that you’ve done that,...

Remove the leaves on the cauliflower and trim the stem back to where the florets start.

In a large pot, combine the water, white wine, olive oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, Aleppo pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Stir well to combine until the sugar and salt dissolve. Bring the mixture to a boil.

Slowly and carefully – no splashing! – lower the cauliflower into the broth, and spoon some of the broth over the top. (It doesn’t matter if it’s crown up or down, as you’ll be turning it occasionally.) Reduce the heat and simmer the cauliflower for 20 minutes, turning it over occasionally. When it’s done, you should be able to pierce the center easily with a knife.

While the cauliflower is poaching, preheat the oven to 475º.

When the cauliflower has finished poaching, turn off the heat and, using a sieve or a couple of slotted spoons, carefully transfer the cauliflower to a rimmed baking pan. Drain the cauliflower well before putting it into the oven. Roast 35-40 minutes at 475º, rotating the pan after 20 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, put all the cheese sauce ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until smooth. Add salt to taste, and transfer the sauce to a small bowl. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on top. Kitchen Goddess note: You can make the cheese sauce up to a day earlier, and refrigerate it. Bring it out 30 minutes before serving.

When the cauliflower is well browned, move it to a plate and drizzle it lightly with olive oil. Serve with tangy cheese sauce.

And come back tomorrow for number 2 of my So-Easy Sides.


  1. lee, i made this the other day, it was delish! silly question - the bath includes the 6 cups water, right? and my cheese sauce was more of a spread... but all good.

  2. OMG, Hen -- thanks so much for catching that. Yes, the water goes into the bath. So glad that little misstep didn't stop you! And now I've fixed the text, so no one else will have that problem. And for the cheese sauce, if you leave the ingredients out at room temp, it gets more like sauce. Still thick, though. And I'm glad you liked it. I served it for Jim's and my dinner, then ate the other half all by myself for lunch the next day. Yummy.

    1. P.S. I also added a note about taking the cheeses out of the fridge. Love hearing from you!

  3. Yum! We love cauliflower, so can't wait to try this!

    1. It's a real winner. Thanks for stopping by, and Happy Thanksgiving!