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The Hopping Best Recipe for Roasted Cauliflower


Parents who want  their children to eat vegetables often find themselves in a typical predicament--they start repeating themselves. It's hard not to do so. The conventional thinking is that kids need to be exposed to vegetables over and over (consider, even, the "50 Exposure Rule") before they'll start eating their greens. 

I don't know if this is true. Nina and Pinta have their own crazy logic when it comes to vegetables. They'll eat broccoli, asparagus, the occasional green bean, spinach (if it's on pizza or in a frozen empanada), which, come to think of it, is not bad at all. Pinta also loves peas, especially if they are left frozen. How strange is that?

There are a number of tricks that can be employed to get kids to eat what's good for them. I'm not an advocate of some of them, such as sneaking greens into foods a la Jessica Seinfeld's "Deceptively Delicious," but as the King put it, "50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can't Be Wrong." People are looking for an easy way to get children to eat better.

I will share a few of my methods. The first and most reliable one is to employ a balsamic vinaigrette. It's easy to make--go with about one part vinegar to three parts olive oil and add salt and pepper. The children like to dip the heads of broccoli in it. They love it with their asparagus. The dressing will sweeten everything it touches. 

Tonight, I came home from work early to have dinner with the family, and Santa Maria introduced me to another way. Actually, Nina told me about it, and I was shocked. I had no idea things like this went on when I was out of the house. Nina said her mother let her jump on the couch (she calls it our trampoline) and eat cauliflower in the living room. 

As a rule, we don't let the kids take food out of the kitchen. Also, I thought that we would want to discourage them from jumping on the furniture. When I was a child I would have gotten in big trouble for jumping on the couch. I told Nina this and asked her which was more crazy--jumping on the couch or eating in the living room. Her answer was "eating in the living room" which goes a long way towards explaining why she calls the couch a trampoline.

Santa Maria had called me on the way home and asked me to pick up a head of cauliflower. She cooked it while we were eating pasta and bolognese. It was ready by the time we finished the dishes. It was almost the children's bed time, but it's important to bend the rules when it means they'll eat their vegetables.

Off we went to the living room, where Nina pulled the cushion off the couch, tossed in on the floor, and proceeded to bounce up and down on the piece of furniture, its slip cover riding up in fruitless protest, while Santa Maria and myself sat on a neighboring couch and watched with one bowl and two plates of the cauliflower in our laps. Pinta joined her and their giddy laughter filled the room. Every so often they'd stop, hop down, and pop a floret in their mouth. We'd enjoin them not to jump while chewing. Most of the time they'd oblige. This repeated itself until the cauliflower was gone. At which point, the jumping continued until Nina hit her head on the wall. Maybe my parents were on to something.

The truth about the cauliflower is that the children don't need to hurt themselves in order to want to eat it. When roasted the following way, it's irresistible. I first blogged about roasting cauliflower in April, but at the risk of repeating myself, I'll post the recipe again. It's that good. 

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • a very little olive oil (about a teaspoon)
  • salt and pepper to taste

    Turn the oven to 350 degrees.

    Wash and cut the cauliflower into florets.

    Toss the cauliflower in a roasting pan with the olive oil and the salt and pepper.

    Put the pan in the oven, and stir occasionally.

    It should be done in about twenty minutes (the smaller you cut up the head, the faster it will cook).

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