A little while ago I was intrigued by a post on Laura’s blog about roasting the outer leaves of a cauliflower; I’d read about it before but not yet given it a go myself, so of course, I got straight onto it!
The leaves roast very quickly, especially the outer, thinner, leafy bit, and they get really crispy. The challenge is not to eat them straight out of the oven because, firstly (and obviously if I’d stopped to think about it!) they get really hot, and secondly, if you just wait a few minutes, the leaves crisp up even more (as I discovered after exercising some patience…having burnt my tongue on the really hot one!).
Preheat the oven to 200C fan
Remove and wash the outer leaves – really wash them as this is where little bugs can live
Cut off any browning tips from where the grocer may have previously trimmed the leaves
Lay the leaves in a single layer on your oven tray and spray with your chosen oil, I used olive oil
Turn the leaves over and spray both sides
Roast for 5-10 minutes until you see the leaves starting the brown, remove the pan, turn the leaves over and roast a little longer until both sides of the leaves are slightly browned
At this mid point I have experimented with sprinkling the leaves with spices, the ones in the photos below are sprinkled with za’atar
Once the leaves look browned and crunchy, remove the pan from the oven and allow the leaves to cool for a few minutes, as per the comment above
A note: the spines on the larger outer leaves can be quite thick, and can remain quite chewy to eat; I would still roast these leaves and then cut away the crispy edges once roasted; the inner, smaller leaves will be absolutely fine all the way through
Yesterday I made the dish below using a mixture of the cauliflower leaves as well as roasting some of the florets and chunks of the main stalk (this part is also very tasty, usually having more flavour than the actual florets, in my opinion)..
I topped my cauliflower with chopped persevered lemon, chopped cashew nuts that I’d roasted and sprinkled with Aleppo chilli flakes, and a herby harissa concoction I created from mixing my rose harissa with chopped coriander, parsley and mixed seeds..