(To the haters: this recipe might make you change your minds).
I haven’t always been so fortunate as to appreciate the merits of cauliflower. But in adulthood, I have discovered what many already knew to be true: cauliflower is probably one of the best vegetables out there. It is hearty, healthy, and holds up well in a wide variety of preparations. For vegetarians it makes a filling vegetable substitute when one is sick of constantly imbibing eggplant and tofu.And, in my opinion, no recipe highlights the cauliflower as magnificently as this Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese and Chili Oil recipe.
Our story begins one fine winter day in Chicago. We were in Michigan for Christmas and decided to go to Chicago to visit my brother. The restaurant was Bar Toma (a place that uniquely serves thin crust pizza in Chicago… which was really good, I might add!)
But what I’m going to talk about is not their pizza, but their fantastic cauliflower appetizer- a whole head of roasted cauliflower, hot and steaming from the oven, pierced with a steak knife, and served with a whipped goat cheese dip that was silky, creamy, tangy, and just slightly spicy.So I’ve been thinking about this appetizer, like, all winter. And since cauliflower is basically one of the only “seasonal” winter vegetable (I guess because there’s a lack of sunlight that’s when all the white vegetables grow…?) I commenced with re-creating this dish.I decided to put a little twist on my version by showering the entire cauliflower with bright red chili powder. I use Kashmiri Chili powder from the Indian store, which is why it is so brightly color, but just regular paprika or chili powder would work fine.
So, season the cauliflower, pop it in the oven in a cast iron skillet, and roast it for 45 minutes or an hour. And while it’s roasting, one can make the goat cheese spread; I combined cream cheese and goat cheese and beat them together to create a fluffy and creamy spread. And then I drizzled the entire thing with chili garlic oil. So when winter beats you down and you feel like there’s no point to eating vegetables because that’s the food of summer, and summer might never come again… remember this recipe. And thank Bar Toma (or me) for the best vegetarian food of winter.
Roasted Cauliflower with Whipped Goat Cheese and Chili Oil
_For the Roasted Cauliflower_
- 1 head Cauliflower
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon red chili powder or paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
_For the Garlic Chili Oil_
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves peeled and sliced in half
- 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
_For the Whipped Goat Cheese_
- 4 oz cream cheese softened
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 2 teaspoons milk or cream
- 3 teaspoons garlic chili oil
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Prepare whole cauliflower by removing leaves and stem and drizzling with olive oil and rubbing all over with chili powder. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Place seasoned cauliflower in a cast iron skillet or baking sheet.
- Bake for 45 minutes-1 hour or until cauliflower is easily pierced with a knife.
- Meanwhile prepare the condiments
- In a small saucepan combine olive oil, garlic cloves, and chili flakes. Heat on low for 10 minutes or until garlic is softened and fragrant. Remove from heat and discard garlic cloves.
- In a small mixing bowl combine cream cheese, goat cheese, milk, and 3 teaspoons of garlic chili oil.
- With a hand mixer, beat until ingredients are well-combined and mixture appears light and fluffy.
- Serve whipped goat cheese in a separate bowl or plate, drizzled with a few tablespoons of garlic chili oil.
- Serve whipped cheese alongside roasted cauliflower as a spread.