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I am most certainly not taking any credit for this laughingly simple technique that impresses both in flavor, texture, and looks. My version coats a whole head of cauliflower in canola oil, and seasons it with smoked salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until crispy and dark brown on the outside, and tender inside. Serve a wedge over a smooth squash puree* (in this instance, kabocha) and garnish with a bright, fresh gremolata.

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*I went all indulgent with butter and cream, but feel free to omit for a vegan version.

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1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp plus 1 Tbsp olive oil
4 slices bacon, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, small dice
4 medium carrots, small dice
5 medium stalks celery, small dice
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups green lentils
3 1/2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or water would also work)
Soft goat cheese, at room temperature, for serving (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 Tbsp olive oil, salt, and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet.
2. Roast cauliflower for 15 minutes until dark brown in spots, stirring halfway. Decrease oven temperature to 350 degrees F and roast for another 15 minutes to finish cooking through. Set aside.
3. In a medium pot over medium-high heat, heat the remaining 2 tsp olive oil. Add bacon and cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes.
4. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot. Season with salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are tender, about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Add garlic and cook for another 2 minutes.
6. Add lentils and stock to the pot, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and cook for about 30 minutes, or until lentils are cooked through. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
7. Spoon lentils into bowls and top with roasted cauliflower. Top with goat’s cheese, if desired.

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Man-o-Meter*: 8/10
Man Comment: “There’s bacon in it.”

*A new tool in which my S.S. rates each dish based on its appeal to the general male audience. He is a Midwestern, salt-of-the-earth type, and is easy to please while, at the same time, provides polite feedback. Though not a chef or cook, but an eater of most everything (less mushrooms, calamari, raw onions, and offal), his opinions matter because, well, they do to me (awWwWwWw).

The first time I made Curried Cauliflower over Lentils, the whole was greater than the sum of its parts. Here, I’ve made only a few minor tweaks, but it was even better than attempt number one: brighter, bolder, cleaner–a bit more refined. The cauliflower is roasted with curry powder until it just caramelizes, creating a texture contrast to the bed of creamy lentils underneath. Pomegranate seeds add another pop of color, texture, and acidity, and a garnish of lemon juice and olive oil pushes the flavors just over the edge.

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 Tbsp canola oil, divided
1 Tbsp curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 cup brown lentils
1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped (can substitute fresh parsley)
1 pomegranate, seeded
Lemon juice, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

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1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Toss cauliflower florets with 1/2 Tbsp canola oil, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly crispy.
3. Heat remaining 1 Tbsp canola oil in a pot over medium-high heat. Sweat the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until tender, about 5-7 minutes, stirring often to prevent browning. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Add broth (or water) and lentils to the pot. Bring to a rapid simmer and then reduce to a low simmer, cover, and cook for about 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the cilantro and adjust seasoning to taste.
5. To plate, spoon lentils onto plate or into bowl. Top with curried cauliflower, garnish with pomegranate seeds, and drizzle with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil.

6 oz cauliflower florets
12 oz cherry or grape tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on the size
1/2 hothouse cucumber, small dice or julienne (or both!)
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup fresh mint, chopped
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 Tbsp tahini
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt

1. Over a bowl, grate cauliflower florets using the large holes on a box grater.
2. Add tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, mint, and lemon zest to the bowl.
3. Combine lemon juice with tahini and stir, thinning with a couple tablespoons of water. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, and season with salt.
4. Pour dressing over the tabouli and stir to combine.

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1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 Tbsp curry powder
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2 stalks celery, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 1/4 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 cup lentils
1 small bunch parsley (or cilantro), roughly chopped
1 pomegranate, seeded
Lemon juice, for garnish
Extra-virgin olive oil, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
2. Toss cauliflower florets with 1/2 Tbsp olive oil, curry powder, salt, and black pepper. Spread out on a sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown and slightly crispy.
3. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a pot over medium high heat. Saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic until tender, about 5 minutes.
4. Add broth (or water) and lentils to the pot. Bring to a rapid simmer and then reduce to a low simmer and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the parsley (or cilantro).
5. To plate, place lentils on plate or in bowl. Top with curried cauliflower, drizzle with lemon juice and extra-virgin olive oil, and garnish with pomegranate seeds.

Hopefully this recipe tests well the second time around, because it was ridiculously delicious, filling, and terribly healthy.

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