The English chef April Bloomfield is known for her love of meat, but her vegetable-centric cookbook “A Girl and Her Greens” is stuffed with the produce she discovered while cooking in Mediterranean-influenced kitchens like Chez Panisse and London’s River Cafe. Often, she simply treats a vegetable as if it were meat, like this whole head of cauliflower. Braising it in tomato and anchovies, as if making an Italian pot roast, produces a richly satisfying entree.
Ms. Bloomfield is unabashedly fussy about every component of her dishes, and inspires us to be equally careful. She gives a $2 can of plum tomatoes the same treatment she’d give an $80 whole lobe of foie gras: Each one must be closely examined, its tough bits trimmed off, and any substandard specimens discarded.
- 1 head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), white, green or Romanesco
- 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 3 medium garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 3 whole salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and filleted, or 5 to 6 anchovy fillets
- ¾ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 1 ½ cups drained whole canned tomatoes, trimmed of hard and unripe bits, diced
- ¼ cup dry white wine, plus extra for cooking
- 3 dried pequin chiles, or 3 large pinches red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon flaky salt, like Maldon, or kosher salt
- Nutritional Information
Note: Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available data.
Nutritional analysis per serving (6 servings)
191 calories; 12 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 8 grams monounsaturated fat; 1 gram polyunsaturated fat; 17 grams carbohydrates; 5 grams dietary fiber; 8 grams sugars; 5 grams protein; 1 milligram cholesterol; 604 milligrams sodium
6 servings as a side dish, 4 as an entree
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 450 degrees.
- Trim any wilted leaves and brown bits off the cauliflower, but leave healthy leaves. Put the cauliflower on its side on a cutting board. As if coring a tomato, core the base of the cauliflower: insert a small sharp knife about 1 inch into the base of the stem, make a circular cut to loosen the cone-shaped core, then pry it out and discard.
- In a deep, heavy ovenproof pot (with a lid), large enough to hold the whole cauliflower, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower cored side up; it should sizzle. Brown the exterior, turning it occasionally with tongs for even browning. This should take about 5 minutes; reduce the heat as needed to prevent scorching. Carefully turn over and brown the other side lightly, about 2 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower to a plate and add garlic, anchovies and rosemary to the pot. Stir until garlic is golden, about 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, white wine, chiles and salt. Stir well and bring to a simmer. Return cauliflower to pot, cored side down. Baste with the tomato liquid and pile some of the solids on top. Simmer, uncovered, 5 minutes to thicken the tomatoes.
- Cover the pot, place in the oven and roast until tender, 30 to 45 minutes; a knife will go into the thick stems with almost no resistance. Check on the tomato sauce every 10 minutes or so; it should be punchy and intense but not too thick, so add a glug of wine if it seems to be getting too dry.
- Transfer the cauliflower head to a serving plate or shallow bowl and cut in half, quarters or thick slices. Spoon on all the tasty stuff left in the pot. Add a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of herbs. Serve immediately or at room temperature, passing salt and red pepper flakes at the table.
About 1 hour 15 minutes