Food Deadline Cauliflower

This June 9, 2014, photo shows a battered and grilled whole cauliflower in Concord, N.H. The recipe uses a well-seasoned blend of almond flour and egg. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)


An impressive way to grill a whole cauliflower

By From page B7 | July 16, 2014

Last summer, the hip way to handle cauliflower was to treat it like a steak.

It was a trick that started in restaurants and quickly trickled down to home cooks looking for fresh ways to make an often overlooked vegetable a little more interesting. Most recipes call for cutting a head of cauliflower into thick slabs that remain intact during cooking. The slabs are seasoned and often grilled, and the result is a delicious, impressive and substantial dinner.

But recently I read about a whole new approach to cooking cauliflower, with “whole” being the key. The food website KitchenDaily.com posted a fascinating recipe for spicy whole-roasted cauliflower in which the entire head is coated with a spicy cumin-yogurt sauce, then slowly roasted. The result is a lightly crisped exterior and a tender interior, all of which is cut into slices like a pie.

I had to try it. But I also had to adapt it. After all, it’s summer and I firmly believe anything that can be done on the grill ought to be done on the grill. I also wanted an even crunchier exterior, something savory and a little salty, but that also would play up the textural contrast with the tender interior.

My solution was a well-seasoned blend of almond flour and egg. I simply overturned the head of cauliflower into a bowl of this coating, then set it on the grill right side up. Note that the trick to getting the insides tender without burning the outside is a gentle heat. Indirect grilling is the best bet for this recipe.


Start to finish: 1 hour 10 minutes (10 minutes active)

Servings: 4

1 large head cauliflower

½ cup almond flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon whole-grain Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon water

½ tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Splash hot sauce

Heat a grill to medium-high, then prepare it for indirect cooking. On a charcoal grill, bank the lit coals to one side. On a gas grill, turn off the burners on one half of the grill. Coat a large sheet of foil with cooking spray.

Use a paring knife to trim away any leaves and protruding stem from the bottom of the cauliflower. Be careful not to cut into the head; you want it to remain intact.

In a shallow bowl large enough to fit the overturned head of cauliflower, whisk together the almond flour, egg, mustard, water, lemon juice, smoked paprika, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Overturn the cauliflower into the bowl, turning and moving it to coat it as completely as possible with the mixture.

Set the head of cauliflower right side up on the prepared foil. Spoon any of the almond flour mixture remaining in the bowl over the cauliflower, making sure it is evenly coated. Set the cauliflower (on the foil) on the cooler side of the grill. Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour, or until lightly browned outside and tender insider (you can check by inserting a paring knife at the center).

Let the cauliflower cool for 5 minutes, then slice into wedges as you would a pie.

Nutrition information per serving: 130 calories; 70 calories from fat (54 percent of total calories); 7 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 45 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrate; 5 g fiber; 4 g sugar; 7 g protein; 620 mg sodium.

J.M. Hirsch is the food editor for The Associated Press. He blogs at www.LunchBoxBlues.com and tweets at www.twitter.com/JM_Hirsch. Email him at [email protected]

J.M. Hirsch


Discussion | 7 comments

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 16, 2014 - 6:59 am

    Grilling cauliflower? Armageddon is nigh!

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  • StRJuly 16, 2014 - 7:45 am

    I whole-heartedly agree with Jason on this.....

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  • Jason KnowlesJuly 16, 2014 - 8:11 am

    I actually don't mind cauliflower raw. I'm just philosophically opposed to wasting grill space on vegetables (onions, squash, and zucchini are exceptions).

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  • Mr. PracticalJuly 16, 2014 - 7:32 pm

    Jason, speaking of grilling... I recently bought my first pellet grill. It is awesome. Every flavor of wood is available and you get complete control over the heat. It even has a temperature probe for larger cuts, with a digital readout that I can see from my recliner.

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  • Mr. PracticalJuly 16, 2014 - 7:28 pm

    I think I can solve this conundrum. The caramelizing is what makes this taste good, giving the normally bland cauliflower flavor. That can be achieved by roasting in the oven instead of wasting precious grill space. A better way is to break down the cauliflower into florets. That will allow more surface area to caramelize and impart more of that sweet, nutty flavor. Forget the mustard and the rest of it. Just toss it in quality EVOO with a little kosher salt and pepper. You can also add a bit of chopped or sliced garlic to add texture. You're welcome!

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  • rlw895July 16, 2014 - 8:42 pm

    I'm with you, Mr.P. Try frying up a little bacon and onions and tossing them and a little olive oil into the florets, then roasting on a cookie sheet at 425 for about 20 min, stirring once. Capers are nice too. Works great also for Brussels sprouts.

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  • Mr. PracticalJuly 16, 2014 - 8:55 pm

    Ha! Now we're finding common ground. I like the bacon and onion idea. Roasting root veggies is also great. I particularly like rutabagas. We never steam or boil vegetables, except for the occasional artichoke. We even roast broccoli. We found this product called Peanuts & Panko. We toss the roasted broccoli with that and a little oil. Good stuff. Also good as a crust for chicken. You should find it if you Google it.

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