Andy Baraghani’s perfect cauliflower with spicy coconut crisp
- 1 head cauliflower or Romanesco (keep any green leaves or stems that come with it)
- 1⁄3 cup melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- Pure Sea Salt
SPICY COCONUT CRISP
- 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 serrano or jalapeño chiles, thinly sliced
- 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lime zest
- Pure Sea Salt
- ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro (leaves, stems, and all)
- 2 limes, cut into wedges
If you’ve not come across cook Andy Baraghani before, seek him out. His first book ‘The Cook You Want To Be‘ is a thoughtful and inspiring delve into how we use our kitchens and is full of things you’ll really want to cook. It’s a celebration of his Iranian upbringing and homage to some of the incredible places he trained, from Chez Panisse to Bon Appétit.
From Andy – I wish you could press a button and hear the sound effects of how I feel about this recipe. This cauliflower is THAT GOOD. You cut slabs of cauliflower into, yes, cauliflower steaks, before snapping off the florets. The technique serves a purpose: the flattened sides of the cauliflower get caramelized all over, whereas it only browns in spots when you keep the stalk round. After the steaks are roasted, you break them into pieces so they’re more practical for the home cook but still manage to get that high-priced vegetarian main-course effect seen in restaurants. Aesthetically, I like it, too. Remember to collect any crumbly bits, cores, and leafy parts, which add dimension and different textures to the finished dish. To bring the caramelized cauliflower back to life after roasting, it gets a sprinkling of toasted, spicy crunchy coconut with plenty of lime zest and juice to seduce you. Or whoever you’re cooking for.
- Place an oven rack in the bottom position and preheat the oven to 450ºF/230ºC.
- If the outer leaves of the cauliflower look fresh and not brown, pull them off and give them a coarse chop. Trim the bottom core of the cauliflower so it can stand on its stem. Cut the cauliflower into 1-inch-thick slabs (you’ll probably get four or five pieces), then snap off the florets from the slabs.
- In a large bowl, combine the 1⁄3 cup coconut oil, garlic, and turmeric and stir to mix. Throw in the cauliflower pieces and leaves, season with salt, and then toss with a large metal spoon or rubber spatula. (Skip using your hands this time to avoid turmeric stains.)
- Spread the cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, flipping the pieces after the first 15 minutes, until deeply golden brown on both sides, 25 to 30 minutes total.
- To make the coconut crisp: When the cauliflower is almost ready, in a small skillet over medium heat, combine the coconut oil, chiles, and coconut flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut flakes are golden brown in most spots and smell sweet, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the lime zest. Season with salt and stir again.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a platter and crumble the coconut crisp over it. Scatter the cilantro on top and squeeze the juice from a few lime wedges over. Serve with the remaining lime wedges on the side for squeezing.
CHOOSING COCONUT FLAKES
Always buy unsweetened coconut so you can control the sweetness. (We associate coconut’s flavor with sweetness, but that comes from its aroma, not its actual flavor.) I buy flakes or shreds, depending on my mood. The big flakes are graphic and cool, but everything goes faster with shreds—from toasting to incorporating into a dish. Once you open the package, keep it in the fridge to preserve freshness.
RECIPE: Andy Baraghani from his new book The Cook You Want to Be.