Photo by Brian Samuels Photography, taken at The Big Potluck

At Saturday’s Big Potluck lunch we set up a bountiful salad bar overflowing with greens and grains and an array of colorful vegetables, which we all grazed on to near excess. Saturday night’s dinner was sit-down, and a first-course salad made sense with our grilled lamb dinner… except that we had all had our fill of salad for lunch. I wanted to serve something light, yet stunning, and I had recently seen whole-roasted cauliflower on-line. I’d give it a try.

Boosting the cauliflower’s flavor made sense, and I had seen recipes where whole cauliflower heads had been dipped in Greek yogurt before going into the oven. I dutifully tried it but did not like it. During roasting, the yogurt crust dried up, unattractively flaked off, and generally messed with the cauliflower’s honest flavor.

After a few more tests, I came to my usual conclusion. That oil, salt, and pepper best supported the cauliflower, allowing it’s true flavor to shine. Strong oven heat is good too. I found 400 degrees allowed the cauliflower to fully cook through just as it was starting to brown.

Our dinner featured Gourmet Garden herbs, and their chef, Shannon Kinsella, was at The Big Potluck to help prepare the dinner. In my testing, I had removed the cauliflower leaves and most of the core, but Shannon brilliantly left it on, further enhancing the cauliflower’s natural beauty.

We used Gourmet Garden herbs and garlic for the dressing, which we love, but I’ve written the recipe calling for fresh.  For our readers who use Gourmet Garden products, simply substitute and equal amount of Gourmet Garden oregano and and dill for the fresh and a tablespoon of Gourmet Garden garlic for the two garlic cloves. Since Gourmet Garden products contain salt, you can omit it, along with the Dijon mustard, in the dressing.

I’m happy to add another roasted vegetable to my salad repertoire–and an impressive one at that!

Roasted Cauliflower with Dill Vinaigrette
Serves 8

3/4 cup olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon turmeric
Salt and ground black pepper
2 medium heads cauliflower
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix 1/4 cup olive oil and turmeric; brush mixture all over each head of cauliflower and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Place both heads on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast until cauliflower heads are tender when pricked with a long skewer, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on size.
Remove from oven and let stand to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, puree oregano, garlic, dill, vinegar, mustard, lemon juice, remaining 1/2 cup oil, and a  sprinkling of salt and pepper in a blender until creamy and emulsified. Present cauliflower whole and then cut into quarters and serve with dressing drizzled over top.