Manic Monday: It’s All in Your Head of Cauliflower


  • Slice whole head of cauliflower into 1.5-2 inch slices
  • Lay them flat on baking tray lined/unlined depending on cleanup ease
  • Drizzle or spray with avocado and/or olive oil
  • sprinkle with 1-2 tsp favorite dried or fresh herbs like thyme, smashed fennel seeds, or parsley.
  • add up to 5 cloves minced garlic (optional)
  • add salt, pepper or red pepper flakes to taste
  • Roast-it-with-Renata at 375F for 30-40 minutes until gooey and soft as you like it. No need to cover. Just sit back and enjoy aroma!
Three heads are better than one.


Are you feeling like the Polar Vortex has caused your brain to become so scrambled that you don’t know who you are anymore? You are not alone. So many people I have talked to in the Midwest are up to their eyeballs with anxiety, morose thoughts, and fear of frozen toes.

It’s time to chop your way back to good mental and emotional health with a healing trip to the kitchen counter, and give a wicked whack at the head of cauliflower to roast heavenly smells throughout your house.

Okay, I have to admit that once I shared this easy cauliflower recipe with a friend as we were chatting, and I failed to remind her to slice the head into “steaks”. She plonked a giant head of cauliflower into the oven and didn’t understand why it wasn’t done in 30 minutes.

So let me take a minute to explain how to cut up that hunky head of cauliflower. Give it a little rinse under tap water and peel off any obvious offending leaves.

On a cutting board, with a sharp knife, cut the core out of the stem still leaving the whole head intact.

Now grab that head and take control! Yes, this is a metaphor for Mental Health Mindset we simply must fight for under this super sonic snow and ice attack that is blanketing us in Chicago.

Take a sharp serrated bread knife in your dominant hand, and hold the head of cauliflower nice and steady in the other hand. You’re going to cut that head of cauliflower into “steaks”, so they need to be wide enough to stay in once piece, but not so wide that you don’t get about 3 “steaks” out of them. Aim for 1.5 to 2 inch slices. They look so pretty when they are all one steak! You can see all the beautiful insides of the brain, and appreciate the swirls, shapes and angles that are twisting and growing in that creamy hard head. Is this what our own brains need? Someone to cross-section them and admire their perfect beauty?

If you don’t the hang of it right away, and you slice them a little too thin, they will crumble. Do not worry! I actually saw Martha Stewart do that, so if she can’t properly wield a knife over a raw cauliflower, we shouldn’t be expected to either. Those little crumbles taste great even if they aren’t perfect, which is another metaphor for our cold and grumpy winter warrior brains!

Little bits that fall off the edges taste great all browned at the end!

Rule of thumb is that if you have a humungous head of cauliflower then you will have about 4 “steaks”. If you have a tiny one, you will have about 3 steaks.

You can some parchment paper or foil on a baking sheet, or place them directly on the pan. They won’t stick too much, but the paper or foil will make for an easier cleanup.

If you are trying to cook very low fat, you can simply spray those steaks with any oil you like. If you want a deeper, richer flavor then drizzle olive oil across each steak, rubbing and caressing them in their unique crevices.

Once you are done with that, let the artistry begin! You can explore your spice cabinet and really get funky here. You could go simple. If you want to go simple, you can sprinkle about a teaspoon of thyme across the steaks, and a little salt and pepper and you’re done, and ready to Roast-it-with-Renata uncovered at 375F for about a half hour or until fork tender.

If you want a deeper exploration, then you can smash up 5 cloves of garlic with the back of your knife, and sprinkle crushed fennel and red pepper flakes in, making a messy smashed herbfest , and rub it across the steaks, adding a little more oil drizzled on top, or a spray oil if you like. Roast-it-with-Renata uncovered at 375F for half and hour. If you decide to use the fennel/red pepper flakes/garlic method, get ready for you house to smell like Italian sausage! So much of the times we think we miss meat, when really we miss the herbs and spices that rode piggyback.

If you want a brown color on the cauliflower then use a vegetable oil instead of olive oil, at least partially in a blend, because it browns a bit better than olive oil. But olive oil tastes amazing and will brown eventually!

Roasting these cauliflower steaks is a wonderful way to take advantage of heating your kitchen in this cold and dreary winter we are having. When you are done roasting that cauliflower, you will have turned something white into something magical, which we could all use right now.

Plant Pairings to Make the Meal:

  • Serve on mashed sweet potatoes with a handful of cannelini beans
  • Toss through whole wheat angel hair pasta and a few black olives
  • Nestle on top a bed of mixed brown rice & brown lentils

Enjoy your beautiful head–inside and out.

You can also Roasted pre-cut cauliflower- using the same rule of thumb. Roast it with Renata at 375F with olive oil or vegetable oil and sea salt until soft and gooey–about 30-40 minutes!


A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.

-Nelson Mandela



  1. I love cauliflower! Great ideas for them! I’ll have to try with the fennel seeds! Love the idea of mixing with black olives in pasta!

    • Hi Melissa! Black olives and white cauliflower just plain look pretty together, don’t they? Spice ’em up with loads of smashed garlic and smashed/chopped dried fennel seeds and look out. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Comnent:
    This is the BEST writing of your column I’ve seen.
    Very interesting and delightful way of talking about cauliflower and a good way you gave the recipe. Mmmmmm
    Keep it up girl!


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