Cauliflower has been shooting to the top of food trend lists for the past few years. While largely admired for its “superfood” status, not easy for a white vegetable, it’s also found a place on many dieters’ plates as a replacement for everything from pizza crust to white rice.

Good for cauliflower. It deserves all the praise and attention it’s currently getting, but I would add one more adjective to the list of reasons to love this cruciferous vegetable: delicious.

Yes, it can be a terrific blank-slate ingredient that can soak up the flavors of foods with which it’s paired but if prepared correctly, it also has a sweet nuttiness that not only highlights the other ingredients in a dish, but actually brings a lot to the table itself.

Roasting is by far my favorite cooking method for cauliflower. It intensifies the flavor and gives it more toothsome texture. And it’s easy. All you need to do is cut the head into florets, drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven.

While roasted cauliflower makes a worthy side dish, it can also take center stage, especially when roasted in thick slabs and topped with a flavorful sauce or chunky salsa.

In this week’s Roasted Cauliflower, Bacon and Fontina Baked Pasta, the cauliflower’s sweetness makes the perfect foil for salty, smoky bacon and creamy, cheesy pasta. The cheese, in this case, is fontina, an Italian variety that melts beautifully and lends a mild, buttery, nutty flavor to the dish, mirroring those same flavors in the roasted cauliflower.

The dish is topped with fresh breadcrumbs tossed with grated Parmesan and olive oil before it’s baked until golden brown and bubbly.

If you have someone who is cauliflower-averse at your dinner table, this is the best possible way to win them over. Of course, any cauliflower lover will only love it more in this indulgent casserole.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Instagram ­at @meredithdeeds.