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Playing Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Welsh Rarebit


  • 1/4 cup EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 2 large fresh bay leaves
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • Salt
  • 1 large head cauliflower, trimmed of greens
  • 1 teaspoon (1/3 palmful) each caraway and cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon pimenton/smoked paprika
For the Welsh Rarebit Sauce
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • About 3/4 cup pilsner or amber beer
  • 1 tablespoon grainy Dijon mustard
  • About 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • A pinch cayenne pepper or 2 to 3 dashes Tabasco
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 cups English sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Finely chopped parsley, to garnish


Serves: 4 as entrée, 8 as starter or side.


Preheat oven to 450°F.
Fill a pot with about 2 to 2 1/2 quarts water and add EVOO, bay, lemon slices, wine, chili flakes, peppercorns and garlic. Bring to a boil and season liberally with salt.

Drop whole cauliflower head into the boiling water. Keep water at a low, rolling boil for about 20 minutes or until the heart of cauliflower is just tender enough to pierce with a skewer. Remove cauliflower and drain; pat dry. Place on a baking sheet or in shallow casserole dish.
Toast caraway and cumin seeds in a dry skillet then grind in spice mill. Drizzle the cauliflower with EVOO and sprinkle with the ground caraway and cumin, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast 30 minutes, turning occasionally if it starts to brown quicker in one spot or another.
For the sauce, melt butter in a saucepan then whisk in flour to make a pale roux; whisk in beer. Gently simmer to thicken, 3 minutes, then stir in mustard, Worcestershire, cayenne or Tabasco sauce. Beat the egg yolk with a fork while adding a little of the sauce to it to temper the yolk; stir yolk into sauce. Add in cheese and stir to melt.
Slather the sauce over the cauliflower and bake until puffed and golden, about 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

“I use golden cauliflower for this recipe when I can find it. White, purple or yellow—just get the biggest head of cauliflower you can find because this dish is amazing and all will want seconds, for sure! This is an impressive starter or side but it’s also rich enough for a meal.”

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