And orange. Let’s not forget the orange. So, really, it’s roasted cauliflower with hazelnuts, Gorgonzola, and orange. Because we need more orange in our diet at this time of year.
I am starting to understand why oranges became a traditional stocking stuffer (never mind that whole St. Nicholas dropping gold into those poor girls’ socks story that seems to have gotten the orange-as-stocking-stuffer ball rolling. Pun intended, yes.).
First, what a luxury it was (annnnddd…never mind the whole shipping food all over the world thing we do now) to get your hungry lunch claws on oranges while living in a cold climate.
Secondly, do you know how long it’s dark in the north at this time of year? In southeastern New England, we only get 9 hours of light per day (which is kind of b.s. because it ain’t bright out at 7:15am nor is it at 4:15pm). When I think about how many people live further north than Massachusetts, and that they get even less sunlight than we do per day, it suddenly becomes obvious. You need a bright color or two to cheer yourselves in this low-light situation. And what’s brighter than orange? Not a whole lot in the natural world. Not a whole lot.
Plus, there is the tang of the fruit itself, a culinary bright spot. Quite a change from pot roast and boiled potatoes or stew, certainly. Not that I don’t adore comfort food, mind you, but there is a point of overload – even at this time of year – with warming, gravy-filled fare.
Cauliflower and orange pair very well together (though I am inclined to think that both cauliflower and orange are suited to an assortment of successful pairings across the food spectrum), and roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite make-ahead lunches for time-crunched humans. You can make it while you’re doing something else – say, reading the Sunday paper (for those of us who attempt to get that done. I’m pretty sure it’s not possible, unless you assign yourself a section per night during the week, too.), or while making dinner, or while enjoying your weekend breakfast. It takes only 10 minutes to prep (including the orange zesting and juicing), so for very little effort, you end up with a healthful and satisfying lunch for the week.
Once roasted, you can choose how to dress it. Perhaps grated cheese and walnuts are the pairing one week, the next it could be fennel seed and raisins (one of my favorites), or, perhaps it’s this super-simple, yet addictive (provided you like Gorgonzola, that is) preparation. The choice is yours.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large head of cauliflower, peeled, trimmed, and sliced into medium florets
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, or 1 teaspoon dried
- zest and juice of 1 Navel orange
- ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, crushed
- ¼ cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
- In a large mixing bowl, toss the cauliflower florets with the olive oil to coat, then sprinkle with the thyme, and season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange the cauliflower florets in a single layer on a 10 by 15-inch rimmed baking sheet.
- Roast until the cauliflower is browned, 35 to 40 minutes.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a large mixing bowl, pour in the orange juice and zest, add the Gorgonzola cheese, season with salt and pepper, and stir well.
- Serve the cauliflower forth, topped with ¼ of the hazelnuts per serving.
I always make a double batch if I’m trying to get the first four days of the week’s lunches out of roasted cauliflower (Friday is a good treat-yourself day, right?). That usually gets me four 2-cup (or nearly 2-cup) servings).
To toast hazelnuts, place them on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet and toast at 350ºF until they are lightly browned and their skins are starting to peel off, 12 to 15 minutes. Allow the nuts to sit until they are cool to the touch, then place them between two clean kitchen towels or paper towels and rub to remove their skins.
Rather than chop hazelnuts, I find it’s easier to crush them. Wrap the skinned hazelnuts in a clean kitchen towel or paper towel, then use a wine bottle, your olive oil bottle, or the side of a can of beans to gently crush them. Viola! “Chopped” hazelnuts.