Whole roasted cauliflower recipes have been making the rounds on the Internet for quite a few years now and for good reason. A head of cauliflower is not only strangely beautiful, but it’s also oddly satisfying. And on top of that, it’s pretty much a blank canvas. Nothing absorbs flavor quite like a cauliflower. I know it’s easy to distrust the deliciousness of cauliflower. The vegetable has been enlisted to play roles it was never meant to play. Masquerading as rice and even bread products, which are “close” to the real deal at best and disappointing at worst. But I promise this Roasted Cauliflower Rarebit will not disappoint you.
This Roasted Cauliflower Rarebit will not disappoint you because in this case, it isn’t playing a role. What you see is most certainly what you get. So let’s talk about what we’re seeing here. Well, what you have is a head of cauliflower covered in a garlic spice paste roasted until tender. The cauliflower is then covered in a thick ale and cheese sauce. The cheese sauce is then blistered under the broiler before being garnished with rye croutons, fresh chives and dill, and pickled shallots. No smoke, no mirrors.
The idea behind this dish is sort of a happy marriage between the pub classic Welsh rarebit and a childhood staple – steamed cauliflower with cheese sauce. Remember when your parents use to hide veggies under a blanket of cheese sauce? Such a clever move. Worked like a charm, always. So while this recipe may seem a bit strange, it does make a weird sort of sense. Cheese and cauliflower simply belong together.
For those of you who have not had the pleasure, Welsh rarebit is basically the best cheese on toast you’ll ever have. While it’s difficult to pin down the most “traditional” version, the rarebits I’ve enjoyed have consisted of this – thick slices of toast smothered in a thick cheese and beer sauce broiled until blistered and bubbly. Now, obviously, cauliflower is far more dome-shaped than a piece of toast. So this recipe features a very thick cheese sauce. I wanted to be sure the sauce wouldn’t just run off of the cauliflower before it had the chance to blister. The sauce has a flour-heavy roux, which gives it its heft and body. But don’t worry, the sauce doesn’t taste floury in the least.
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about this Roasted Cauliflower Rarebit with Pickled Shallots. And if you have any lingering questions, check out the video below for more tips. I go into A LOT of detail, potentially too much. So if you’re nervous, give it a watch.
Roasted Cauliflower Rarebit with Pickled Shallots
- 1 Large Cast Iron Skillet
- 1 mortar and pestle
- 1 small saucepan
- 1 Small Baking Sheet
Whole Roasted Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower tough outer leaves removed
- 4 cloves garlic peeled
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tsp dried mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp cayenne
- ¼ cup olive oil
Cheddar Ale Sauce
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 3½ tbsp all-purpose flour
- 355 ml (12 fl oz) beer *** I used an ale
- 200g (7oz) sharp cheddar shredded
- 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard heaping
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 large shallot sliced into thin wedges
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 2 slices light rye bread
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- ¼ cup fresh chives finely chopped
- ¼ cup fresh dill coarsely chopped
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large cast-iron skillet with parchment paper and place the cauliflower in the center. Set it aside.1 head cauliflower
- Add the garlic and salt to your mortar and pestle. **** Once the garlic is reduced to a paste, scrap it into a bowl and add the mustard, brown sugar, onion powder, mustard powder, paprika, and cayenne. Whisk in the olive oil.4 cloves garlic, 1 tsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tsp dried mustard, 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp onion powder, ½ tsp cayenne, ¼ cup olive oil
- Rub the cauliflower all over with the spice paste. Once it’s thoroughly coated, cover it with tin foil and place it in the oven. Leave the cauliflower to roast, covered for 50 minutes to an hour.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, place the shallots in a bowl and cover them with white balsamic vinegar. Set them aside to pickle at room temperature for the duration of the recipe.1 large shallot, ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- Arrange the rye bread slices on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle them with a good amount of olive oil and give them a sprinkling of salt. Transfer the slices to the oven to roast alongside the cauliflower for 15 minutes. Once the 15 minutes have passed, flip the slices and roast for 10 minutes more.2 slices light rye bread
- When the slices are golden on both sides, take them out of the oven and rub them all over with the garlic. Break the toast up a bit with your hands and deposit the pieces into a large food processor. Plus the slices until you’re left with a mixture of fine and chunky bread crumbs. Set them aside.1 clove garlic
- By now your cauliflower should be nearing the end of its initial roast. Take the cauliflower out of the oven and remove the tin foil.***** Return the cauliflower to the oven and roast for 15 minutes or until lightly charred on the surface.
- While the cauliflower is roasting for the second time, make the Cheddar Ale Sauce. In a small saucepan melt the butter. Add the all-purpose flour to the butter and whisk to combine to create a roux. Gradually whisk the beer into the roux.2 tbsp unsalted butter, 3½ tbsp all-purpose flour, 355 ml (12 fl oz) beer ***
- Once the beer has been added, bring the sauce to a gentle simmer and leave it to thicken slightly. Add the cheddar and stir until the cheese melts into the sauce. Finally, stir in the whole-grain mustard and Worcestershire sauce. Taste the sauce and add salt if it needs it. Take the sauce off of the heat and set it aside200g (7oz) sharp cheddar, 1 tbsp whole-grain mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
- When the cauliflower is done roasting, take it out of the oven and set the oven to broil. Ladle some of the cheese sauce over top of the cauliflower. You’ll likely need only a few ladles worth of the cheese sauce for this. Once the cheese sauce is on the cauliflower, quickly return it to the oven and broil until the cheese bubbles and blisters. You may have to rotate your cauliflower every so often to ensure it’s browning relatively evenly.
- Once your Roast Cauliflower Rarebit is browned evenly, take it out of the oven and transfer it to a platter. Top the cauliflower with the rye breadcrumbs some freshly chopped chives, the shallots you pickled earlier, and fresh dill. Warm the remaining cheese sauce and serve it alongside the Roast Cauliflower Rarebit for dipping.¼ cup fresh chives, ¼ cup fresh dill