I really love cauliflower. I can’t say that I always did. As a kid, my mom used to disguise it by slathering the entire head with buttery bread crumbs. It gave the soft cauliflower a much needed texture and provided a yummy, crunchy flavor before hitting the softness of the veg. That crispy texture was everything. Maybe that’s where my need to crunchy foods emerged. Ah ha, case solved.
I have grown to love cauliflower more and more over the years, and have cut it up, roasted it up, spiced it up a few different ways. My famously easy Faux Creamy Cauliflower Soup launched this blog and is an all time favorite among my readers. I Spiced & Roasted it. I’ve made it into a cheesy dip and even put it in a vegetable soup. This cruciferous, nutritious vegetable is a versatile little bugger.
On this cauliflower adventure I traveled back to my youth, and that first encounter - cauliflower with a crunch. I decided to take the encrusted idea to a new level. As you know, I can’t eat bread, which means the crunch would have to come from something other than bread crumbs. But what? I dug into my Italian heritage looking for crusty, gluten free ideas. Voilá, aka Ecco in Italian. Not one thing Italian. 2 things Italian would do the trick. Polenta and Parmigiano Reggiano.
And I’m not kidding when I say that this is truly an easy, roast veg dish. As some of you have said, “oh, easy for you.” But this, my friends, is ridiculously easy.
1 large cauliflower head
1/4 c polenta
3/4 c Parmigiano Reggiano
1/4 t salt
1/8 t pepper
You can either cut the cauliflower head into small florets or slice big slabs. I did both since you can really only get 3-4 slabs then little florets naturally fall off.
For this test run, I only used a 3 main ingredients. Call it the getting my feet wet before I dove in deep.
Wash, dry then cut the cauliflower into slabs
Arrange the pieces on a baking sheet and drizzle them with oil, salt and pepper and bake at 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
3. Meanwhile grate the cheese and set aside.
4. Once the cauliflower is browned, flip them. Once flipped, douse them with the crunch factor, aka Polenta and Parm mix. Drizzle with more oil and back in the oven until browned and crunchy.
The polenta really adds the crunch factor. And I just loved that golden color. I kept it simple for this first revival of crunchy cauliflower, but I think you can imagine how easy it would be to spice these up and change the flavor profile. You could add turmeric and cumin for more Indian flavors. Or oregano and basil to amp up the Italian theme. Go for 5 spice or Caradom for an earthy flavor with a hint of sweet. Sky is the limit, my friends.
These make a perfect side dish for any meal. Or enjoy a slab with a large salad for lunch.