For a long time, I wouldn’t touch cauliflower. I blame vegetable trays at Fourth of July picnics and graduation parties during my childhood. Raw cauliflower just doesn’t intrigue a child like a crunchy carrot, a celery brimming with flavored cream cheese or those black olives that fit on the end of your fingers.

To me, raw cauliflower was a hunk of dense blandness.

My cauliflower conversion started at a local Mediterranean deli. There was roasted curried cauliflower on the buffet. Despite my negative cruciferous history, I was intrigued enough to try it. It was delicious. That tender cauliflower had soaked up every bit of those flavors.

This winter, I started craving that roasted curried cauliflower and found a recipe online that perfectly replicated it.

Now my budding love for cauliflower has sparked a cooking binge. I have boiled it, roasted it and even sauteed it. I have served it with pasta, served it as steaks and even enjoyed it finely diced and raw in a relish.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower

12 cups cauliflower florets (from about 4 pounds cauliflower)

1 large onion, peeled, quartered

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

¾ cup olive oil

½ cup red wine vinegar

3½ teaspoons curry powder

1 tablespoon paprika or Hungarian hot paprika

1¾ teaspoons salt

Freshly ground black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place cauliflower florets in large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet. Pull apart onion quarters into separate layers; add to cauliflower. Stir coriander seeds and cumin seeds in small skillet over medium heat until slightly darkened, about 5 minutes. Crush coarsely in mortar with pestle. Place seeds in medium bowl. Whisk in oil, vinegar, curry powder, paprika and salt. Pour dressing over vegetables; toss to coat. Spread vegetables in single layer. Sprinkle with pepper.

Roast vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. (Can be made two hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 450-degree oven for 10 minutes, if desired.)

Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 6 to 8.

– From

Cauliflower Steaks with Olive Relish and Tomato Sauce

1 large head of cauliflower

½ cup pitted oil-packed black olives, finely chopped

3 sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced, soaked for 4 minutes for warm water

3½ tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus more

2 tablespoons chopped flat- leaf parsley

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves

2 plum tomatoes, cored, quartered

Remove leaves and trim stem end of cauliflower, leaving core intact. Place cauliflower core side down on a work surface. Using a large knife, slice cauliflower into four ½-inch “steaks” from center of cauliflower (some florets will break loose; reserve). Finely chop enough loose florets to measure ½ cup. Transfer chopped florets to a small bowl and mix with olives, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, parsley and lemon juice. Season relish with salt and pepper.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large, heavy, ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook cauliflower steaks until golden brown, about 2 to 4 minutes per side, adding 1 tablespoon oil to pan between batches. Transfer steaks to a large rimmed baking sheet. Reserve skillet. Roast cauliflower until tender, about 15-18 minutes, turning halfway through.

Return skillet to medium-high heat and add garlic cloves and tomatoes, one cut side down. Cook until tomatoes are browned; turn tomatoes over and transfer skillet to oven with cauliflower. Roast garlic and tomatoes until tender, about 12 minutes.

Transfer garlic, tomatoes, and ½ tablespoon oil to a blender; puree until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Divide tomato sauce among plates. Place 1 cauliflower steak on each plate; spoon relish over. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Serves 2 to 4.

Note: It’s hard to get more than two complete steaks from one head of cauliflower. That’s fine if you are only serving two people. Otherwise, buy more than one head of cauliflower. Instead of plum tomatoes, feel free to saute 6 tablespoons canned diced tomatoes with diced garlic cloves instead of roasting before pureeing.

– From Bon Appetit magazine, January 2012.