I want to preface this roasted cauliflower wedge recipe with one of the biggest lessons that having children has taught me, and it is: appreciation.
Appreciation for them as budding humans and appreciation for their amazing father? Absolutely. Appreciation for my parents’ decades of parenting and for my dear friends’ support? Certainly.
But, more selfishly, they have taught me to appreciate many things I used to take for granted pre-kids. Things that feed me, light me up, and make me me, but have been crowded out by other things that feed me in other ways, light me up in other ways, and define another side of me.
It’s all good: chapter of our lives, grow up so fast, next thing you know, moving out of the house, etc.
And the way I see it, I have been gifted with a priceless new perspective that allows me to experience all flavors of bliss when I read three pages of my book at the playground on a Sunday morning (in half-paragraph bursts); when I go over my fantastic flourishes worksheets while they’re coloring next to me (they’re helping me with this Paris coloring book); when everyone is fiiiiiiinally asleep and I tuck my own self into bed with a fresh episode of riveting fiction.
And date nights? Oh, date nights! The anticipation, the thrill, the magic of tiptoeing down our staircase and stepping out into absolute freedom, just the two of us, the city our oyster!
Sometimes we delight in having a simple meal at a neighborhood favorite; other times we plan an evening somewhere new and exciting.
A few months ago we went to Gravity Bar, a hip spot near the Canal Saint-Martin serving excellent cocktails and small plates. We sat at the counter looking into the kitchen, and watched the chef assemble the kind of fresh and vibrant compositions that illustrate what’s exciting about Parisian cuisine right now.
Obviously, I had to order the roasted romanesco, which came as a whole roasted wedge, topped with crumbled blue cheese (bleu d’Auvergne), a honey garlic vinaigrette and caramelized pecans. I knew I would love it. And I did.
The recipe I share with you today is my recreation of the dish, using regular cauliflower (more widely available, but use romanesco if you have it) and walnuts in place of pecans (stick to the original if you have easier access to pecans than I do).
The richness of flavors is remarkable. Can you picture them all in your mind? The palate remains engaged through every bite, processing the nutty, the sweet, the pungent, the bitter, and the roasted.
It is a company-worthy dish that you can serve as an appetizer, the four wedges arranged on a platter that you’ll carve into pieces for your guests, or as a vegetarian main dish, as we have been enjoying it at home. Very satisfying, and if you get non-dairy blue “cheese” (I tried one from Dada that was pretty good) and use rice syrup in the dressing, it’s an easy way to make your vegan friends very happy.
PS: If you’re a fan of roasted cabbage-y things, I’ve got you covered:
- Roasted cauliflower à la Mary Celeste (inspired by a bar run by the same owners)
- Charred broccoli and avocado salad
- Roasted Brussels sprouts with ginger and kimchi
PPS: On the subject of exciting things happening in Paris, get yourself a copy of my friend Lindsey’s book The New Paris! And check out her same-name podcast, The New Paris Podcast, on which I was a guest for episode 2!
PPPS: Did I mention I have a podcast myself? (Caveat: it’s in French.)
Have you tried this? Share your pics on Instagram!
Please tag your pictures with #cnzrecipes. I'll share my favorites!
- 1 whole head cauliflower, about 1 kilogram (2 1/2 pounds)
- 100 grams (3 1/2 ounces) blue cheese (in France, go for Bleu d'Auvergne, Fourme d'Ambert, Roquefort…), crumbled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 50 grams (1/2 cup) walnuts
- 2 teaspoons white sugar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons strong mustard
- 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 2 garlic cloves, pressed or finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F).
- Remove the outer leaves and ribs from the cauliflower, cut a slice off the base to have a fresh cut, and cut the cauliflower in 4 large wedges (6 if serving 6).
- Arrange on a baking sheet, sprinkle with the olive oil, sprinkle with the salt, and flip a couple of times to coat.
- Roast for 30 minutes, until cooked through and nicely browned.
- Meanwhile, prepare the caramelized walnuts. Have ready a small tray lined with parchment paper or a silicone cooking mat.
- In a small saucepan with a thick bottom, melt the sugar over medium heat without stirring. When the sugar is just beginning to caramelize, add the walnuts and stir constantly to coat as you allow the caramel to darken a little more. Pour on the tray, separate the walnuts with the spatula (careful, they will be very hot!), and let cool completely.
- Prepare the vinaigrette. In a small bowl, stir together the honey, mustard, and vinegar. Add the salt and garlic, then stir in the oil to form an emulsion. The dressing can be prepared the day before, and you can scale it up if you’d like, to keep on hand for salads that week.
- To serve, place a cauliflower wedge on each plate. Top with nuts and cheese over, and drizzle with the vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.