If you saw this plate of food, you would say that it's a chicken dish with a couple of sides. Technically, you'd be correct. However, I wanted to focus more on one of the sides. I wanted to talk about cauliflower. Specifically, roasted cauliflower. I like cauliflower well enough. It wouldn't crack my top ten vegetable list. But when you roast it and let it caramelize, and concentrate the flavor by letting it wilt down, it becomes one of the tastiest foods, vegetable or otherwise. So, it's by design that the cauliflower is front-and-center in my photo.
I think the key to getting really good roasted cauliflower is in the way you cut it up. It's still going to taste good whatever way you choose to cut it up, but, if you slice it thinly and increase the surface to mass ratio, you get the perfect combination of crispy, caramelized exterior and tender, concentrated interior. It's a watery vegetable, so you want to cook out as much moisture as possible. So I break up the head into florets and then slice the florets into quarter inch slices vertically - from the bottom of the floret to the top. So, you get a cross-section of cauliflower floret. Then you toss it well in olive oil and salt, then roast in a hot oven for 40-50 minutes or so. It's delicious. It really is.
For the chicken, I pounded out some boneless, skinless thighs, seasoned with salt, and dredged in flour before sauteing in olive oil. I used Wondra flour for the dredging. If you have never used Wondra flour, you should check it out. It's really great for thickening sauces because it's a low protein flour that has been pre-gelatinized, so it will dissolve really quickly into liquid. It will also make a really nice crust on something you are going to fry.
I threw together a quick cucumber and tomato salad because the meal seemed very "brown" and needed some contrast, in color and flavor. It helped that all the ingredients were in the fridge.
The kids really liked this meal. The chicken was basically a giant chicken nugget! they ate the cauliflower up as well. My 5-year-old son wanted seconds! They didn't go for the cucumber-tomato salad, but that was really for the grown-ups. Cauliflower is pretty nutritious so I consider it a huge score that they will eat it up.
Ingredient: 1 head of cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Break the cauliflower into florets.
- Slice florets lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices.
- Toss the sliced cauliflower with enough olive oil to coat.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Spread the cauliflower onto a foil-lined sheet pan.
- Roast for 40-50 minutes.
- Halfway through, give them a stir so they brown evenly.
- Drain on paper towels if necessary.
Ingredients: 5 boneless, skinless
, 1 cup Wondra
- Pound out the chicken thighs between 2 sheets of plastic until they are an even thickness.
- In a shallow pan or dish, add the flour and a generous amount of black pepper.
- Preheat a saute pan and add enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom of the pan.
- Season the chicken with salt on both sides before dredging.
- When the pan and oil are hot, dredge the chicken on both sides and shake off excess and gently lay the chicken in the pan, laying it in the pan away from you.
- You will have to do this in 2 batches.
- Cook for 5-6 minutes on each side.
- Drain on paper towels.
Ingredients: 1 English
, half-pint (or more) grape
, 1/2 cup plain
, extra virgin
- Slice the cucumber into half-inch rounds or half-moons.
- Cut tomatoes in half.
- In a large bowl, combine the yogurt, 1 TB olive oil, juice of half a lemon, pinch of salt & pepper and combine to make the dressing.
- Add the cucumbers, tomatoes, and chopped chives and mix thoroughly.
- Taste and re-season as necessary - more salt, lemon juice, etc.