Vitamin-rich and low in carbs, cauliflower shows no signs of losing its appeal to trend-watching diners. But forget the bland, cheese-drenched dish you avoided as a child.
At Tazza Kitchen, voted Best New Restaurant in the 2017 Maggy Awards, the vegetable is roasted in a wood-fired oven with onions and smoky poblano peppers, topped with white cheddar and scallions, and finished with a bit of crema. The Brick Oven Cauliflower, a best-selling appetizer, helped the eatery also nab an honorable mention for Best Appetizers.
“I remember having cauliflower and brussels sprouts as a child — and not detesting them, I think that’s too strong — but just not finding enjoyable ways to consume them,” said chef Chris Easton. “At Tazza, we show there are ways to enjoy that dish; there are ways to make it great.”
With all the toppings, it’s almost like eating a loaded baked potato. The taste keeps patrons coming back for the cauliflower, but it’s still a healthy choice, says Easton.
“It’s not a trick or a gimmick,” he added. “With just a few tweaks, cauliflower becomes this great, robust, beautiful dish. It’s simple, very tasty.”
Tazza boasts a seasonal menu featuring locally-sourced, fresh ingredients and wood-fired cooking.
“The oven is front and center — a centerpiece figuratively and literally of the restaurant,” he said. “People can watch that show take place every night.”
The high temps in the restaurant’s brick oven can’t be duplicated at home, but if you want to try making something similar to the Brick Oven Cauliflower, try this recipe from Tazza Kitchen.
But if you want the real thing, the menu staple is served at both local Tazza Kitchens — at Stone Creek Village in Cary and at Cameron Village in Raleigh.
6 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
½ cup red onion, diced small
1 cup roasted poblano pepper, diced small, seeds removed*
Extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon, juice only
1 cup shredded white sharp cheddar cheese, divided
½ cup scallions, sliced thin
Sour cream (optional)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Spread cut cauliflower, diced red onion and poblano peppers on a large baking sheet.
Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, and season with kosher salt to taste.
Mix on the sheet pan to evenly distribute. Bake for about 30 to 40 minutes until tender and golden.
If desired, broil for a few additional minutes to get some extra char, but watch it closely!
Remove from oven, and toss with fresh lemon juice in a large stainless steel bowl.
Add half of the shredded cheddar, and toss again.
Arrange cauliflower on a serving dish, then top with remaining cheese and sliced scallions.
Add pinch of kosher salt and a dollop of sour cream to finish, if desired.
*Note: To roast whole poblano peppers, preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Rub poblanos with oil, and place on baking sheet. Roast 30 to 45 minutes, or until charred on all sides, turning with tongs. Transfer to bowl, cover, and let steam 15 minutes. Rub off skins with paper towel or kitchen cloth.
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