WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH AN OUTRAGEOUS ALMOND-HERB SAUCE (that can go on ANYTHING)Total time:
Yield: 3-4 people
1 large cauliflower
FOR THE SAUCE:
1/3 cup blanched almonds
6 to 10 anchovy fillets (optional)
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for basting
2 tsp wine vinegar (white or red), more to taste
½ cup coarsely chopped parsley, mint, tarragon, cilantro or a combination
½ to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and ground black pepper
Place a heavy oven-proof skillet (cast-iron is great) or a baking sheet on an oven rack, and a small pan of hot water on the floor of the oven (to create steam) and preheat to 375 degrees.
While the oven is heating, trim off the outer leaves of the cauliflower as close to the stem as possible, and cut off the bottom of the stem. Remove the core of the cauliflower, but not the florets. (You want it to remain whole.) Rinse (leave the water clinging to the outside) and, core side up, drizzle with olive oil, using your hands to rub the oil until it is evenly coated. Sprinkle with salt. Place the cauliflower on the hot pan in the oven, core side down, and cook until very tender all the way through when pierced with a knife, at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours, basting 2-3 times with more olive oil until it has browned nicely. (If you have a convection oven, use it toward the end of baking to brown the crust.)
Meanwhile, this outrageous sauce: In a small frying pan, toast nuts over low heat, shaking often, just until golden and fragrant. Set aside to cool. In a food processor, combine almonds, anchovies, garlic and butter and pulse until smooth. Mix in oil, then vinegar. Mix in herbs and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
When cauliflower is tender, remove from the oven. (If it has not browned, you can put it under the broiler briefly.). Cut into wedges and spoon sauce around each wedge.