Yotam Ottolenghi, the London-based chef and cookbook author, has a way with vegetables that would turn any salad-hater into a salad-for-dinner kind of cook. So when he suggests, in his new book “Simple,” that we roast vegetables a certain way, we listen.
Roast them whole, he says. That could be for a whole head of cauliflower, cabbage or celery root.
Here’s what he had to say on the matter when we caught up with him on Milk Street Radio:
"It’s not ideal if you want to put something on the table within 25 minutes, but if I have a little bit of time, I take a whole vegetable—it could be anything from a cabbage to a cauliflower to a rutabaga or a celery root—and I drizzle them with oil and put lots of really good salt, and I either cover them individually with foil or wrap them together, or wrap them in a tray, and just leave them there for a good one, two or three hours—it depends on the vegetable—and that's actually almost all the cooking you need to do.
After that, you could do a few other things: You can make a salsa or a sauce to go with it. You can serve it with some crème fraîche and a drizzle of lemon, or something along that line. But it is really as simple as that.
What happens is that with long cooking, the sugar starts to give you caramelization, and the vegetable just tastes more and more of its own self. Many people have discovered this recently with cauliflower—I've got a recipe in the book as well—if you put it in a pot of water and boil it for three minutes and then roast it—leaves and everything—for a good hour after that with lots of olive oil, you get the most sweetest, most delicious cauliflower that really doesn't need anything else apart from that.”
Leave it to Ottolenghi to reveal a new appealing attribute of cauliflower—one that we didn’t even know we were missing—as well as a method of roasting vegetables that not only takes the chopping and prep out of the process, but that accentuates the essence of the vegetable to boot.