Bad Boy Cauliflower
Anthony Bourdain is never one to hold back. That’s why fellow chefs and food writers love him.
So when he describes this dish as “This s–t is compulsively delicious,” you can bet that it is.
And I concur heartily after having made it.
“Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame” is from his new book, “Appetites: A Cookbook” (Ecco), of which I received a review copy.
It’s his first cookbook in more than 10 years. This isn’t a collection of necessarily cutting-edge cooking, but rather recipes for dishes that he loves to cook at home — well, on the rare days that he actually is in New York and not traveling the globe for his must-see “Parts Unknown” show on CNN. They’re also dishes that Bourdain thinks every home-cook ought to have in his or her repertoire.
Besides the recipes for fundamentals such as “Sunday Gravy with Sausage and Rigatoni” and “Chicken Satay with Fake-Ass Spicy Peanut Sauce,” you get plenty of personality and snark.
Take his introduction to his “Macaroni and Cheese” recipe: “Get that damn lobster out of my mac and cheese! Truffles do not make it better. if you add truffle oil, which is made from a petroleum-based chemical additive and the crushed dreams of nineties culinary mediocrity, you should be punched in the kidneys.”
My favorite part, though, is his “chapter” on desserts. It’s all of one page, which essentially says, “F–k dessert.” Turns out he’s not big on sweets, preferring cheese instead. He’s not afraid to forgo desserts in his cookbook. Nope, not going to apologize for it, either. And you wouldn’t want him to, would you?
This cauliflower dish is dead simple. It’s also intriguing because has some Italian herbs, some Middle Eastern tahini, and the Japanese miso. You might scratch your head. But trust.
Because it all does work together beautifully. The cauliflower gets crisp and charred on the edges. After the florets are roasted, toss them in the quite thick sauce of tahini, miso, red wine vinegar and a splash of water. The heat of the cauliflower will loosen up the sauce and coat every inch in delicious nuttiness, umami and a tad of tang. The only change I made was to decrease the amount of salt from 2 teaspoons to one, but you can always use more if you like it on the saltier side.
Bourdain says one adult could easily polish off the entire dish for dinner.
As usual, he says it exactly like it is.
P.S. Do check out the recent New Yorker profile of him — a fascinating read.
Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame
(Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish)
1 head of cauliflower, broken by hand into florets
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons tahini
1 tablespoon white miso
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, oil, salt, coriander, oregano, and pepper and toss well to evenly coat the cauliflower with the oil and spices. Transfer to a sheet pan and arrange in an even layer, making spaces between the pieces as much as possible. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the tray and lightly tossing the pieces halfway through.
While the cauliflower roasts, combine the tahini, miso, vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth.
Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven, transfer to a mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce and sesame seeds to coat evenly.
Adapted from “Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain
More Cauliflower Recipes to Enjoy: Cauliflower Salad with Eggs and Anchovies