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Our brains are a stockpile of favored food memories and associations. One second I will get a craving for my mom’s famous roast lamb and the next all I want is to bite into one of my dad’s perfectly grilled Sunday steaks. Whatever it is, we all crave memories.
Recently, I had a similar craving, and this particular mouth-watering sensation was for roasted cauliflower in cheese sauce.
Of course, when blessed with the ability to manipulate recipes and dishes, I decided to turn that delicious-yet-heavy food memory into something lighter and healthier, yet still highlight the rich nuances that I associate with the original dish.
The dressing is a combination of a creamy cheese sauce and a tangy vinaigrette, which has many other applications limited only to the imagination. Feeds 10-12, depending on portion size. Feel free to half, double or triple the portion sizes. Have fun cooking this dish and take your time to enjoy that-which-tastes-so-good-it-shouldn’t-be-healthy … yet it is.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, mix the cauliflower, coconut oil, chili powder, lime powder, season and mix well.
Place on a baking pan and roast till cauliflower is tender and starts to crisp and turn golden.
In a heavy bottomed pan set to medium, melt the butter and continue to cook until the butter gives off a nutty smell (brown butter).
Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and then onions and season. Cook the onions for 10-15 minutes until soft and beginning to char/brown. Reserve for plating.
In another heavy bottomed pot set to medium/high, pour in the remaining olive oil and heat. Add the green onions, rosemary, garlic, turmeric, agave and cook off for 1 minute.
Add the vinegar, mustard and stock. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Add the cheese little by little, whisking continuously.
Mix together the cornstarch and water to make a slurry and slowly pour into the cheese mixture while stirring to incorporate. Cook for 5 more minutes, stirring regularly to thicken.
To plate, place a handful of spinach at the base of each plate, top with cauliflower and onions, then drizzle with the warm dressing. Top with sliced almonds for crunch.
Mark Godbeer has been a yacht chef for more than 10 years (chefmarkgodbeer.com). His recipes are designed for the owner and guests. Comments are welcome below.