In addition to being a stunner of a vegetable, cauliflower is extremely versatile, inspiring cooks everywhere to experiment with new ways of cooking it (cauliflower rice, anyone?). But good old-fashioned roasting is one of our favorite methods. And if you're not going to cook a head of cauliflower whole, you have to learn how to deconstruct this round, tightly knit vegetable. Don't get intimidated—get excited.
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In this video, part of the “Kitchen Smarts” series on America’s Test Kitchen’s YouTube channel, America’s Test Kitchen books team test cook Joe Gitter demonstrates three different techniques for preparing cauliflower to be roasted. Using common kitchen tools—a chef’s knife and a pair of kitchen shears—we created evenly-sized pieces that brown nicely. Here are some of our findings:
- Slice into “meaty” steaks: After halving the cauliflower, cutting in 1½-inch planks from each side allows for perfect cooking. In the oven, these thick slabs develop a substantial, meaty texture and become nutty, sweet, and caramelized.
- Cut through the core (into wedges): Once you have your halves, slice each one into equal wedges, and then cut those in half for 8 total wedges.
- Use kitchen shears for neater prep: After cutting away the leaves and the stem, turn the cauliflower stem-up and start snipping away the florets. This method gives you more individual florets and allows for easier clean up and less waste.