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During the fall and winter months, cauliflower becomes one of my staple vegetables, and we end up eating it at least once a week (and even more often during the depth of the season). The only trouble with my cauliflower habit is that it always ends up as a side dish and never as the dinnertime star.
That’s not to say that I don’t like the three ways I make it (mashed, roasted or baked in a cheesy sauce). But lately I’ve been seeing lots of ways that people are transforming cauliflower into the main event, and I want in on that action.
My very first stop along the road of front-and-center cauliflower, however, is the Roasted Cauliflower Melt from the Sandwich King himself, Jeff Mauro. In this recipe, he has you cut the cauliflower into thin slabs, brush them with a mustardy dressing and then roast the slices until they’re golden.
Once the cauliflower is done, you tuck the pieces between layers of lavash flatbread with some cheese and slivers of sweet pear, then griddle the sandwiches until the cheese melts and they become irresistible. It is a very good way to make cauliflower the belle of the ball and is a perfect meatless Weekender.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Make sure to leave the core intact when you’re slicing the cauliflower into slabs. If it doesn’t tenderize during roasting, cut it away then. If you remove it before that, the cauliflower will crumble.
— Jeff calls for butterkase cheese in these sandwiches. If that’s not an ingredient that’s readily available in your grocery store, opt for some sliced Havarti cheese. It has a similar texture and melts beautifully.
— Don’t skip the watercress and radish salad Jeff suggests you serve alongside this melt. The slightly bitter greens and peppery radishes complement the richness of the sandwich perfectly.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available for pre-order.