I adore vegetables. My favorites growing up were my mom’s candied carrots and her green beans, and I would easily eat two or three servings. “Eat your vegetables” wasn’t a phrase often directed at me, and the more I learn to cook for myself, the more vegetable varieties I experiment with and add into my repertoire. And when I get to know vegetable-avoiding people, I occasionally take it as a personal challenge to make vegetables for them in a way that will make them go for seconds (and thirds).
These days my go-to starter veggies for new initiates are cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. I know, I know, cauliflower sounds boring, but trust me – it’s so much more than the part of the raw vegetable tray that gets left behind. Cauliflower is an incredibly versatile vegetable, and pairs well with almost anything. But what I really love about cauliflower is how simply and quickly it becomes a dish that converts vegetable-avoiders to vegetable-lovers.
Oh, and Brussels Sprouts! When I was young, Brussels sprouts seemed to be the vegetable people loved to hate on, but I’ve always liked them – they were like baby cabbages, and my mom seemed to always prepare them that way. But then one day I discovered them grilled, and I don’t know if I’ve prepared them any other way since. Brussels sprouts seem to be very popular lately, and I’m seeing them on menus with exotic preparations involving soy glazes and chili-lime dressings, and while those can be delicious too, you don’t need to go through all that to make them delicious. All you need are olive oil and salt. I once grilled a giant batch for a party we were having, and I think my normally-picky-eating step-daughter ate half the plate by herself. Soon she wanted to (and did) learn to make them herself, and now we eat them at least every other week. She and my husband love the extra charred sprouts, while I relish the slightly crunchy ones. I’m not complaining – I love it!
Brussels sprouts aren’t very good if they’re even slightly over-cooked, so you probably don’t want to keep any leftovers unless you like them cold. But there is something you can do with leftover grilled cauliflower: Mashed Caulitatoes. But that’s another post (coming soon!).
Grilled Cauliflower / Grilled Brussels Sprouts
Serves 3-4, or more, depending on the size of the head
These can be prepared on the stove top or the grill, and are equally delicious either way. Cauliflower and Brussels sprouts compliment each other well, so if you are looking for additional variety, they can easily be prepared and served together. If you are grilling, prep the vegetables in larger pieces so they don’t fall through the grates; if you are pan grilling, make sure not to overcrowd the pan – prepare in batches if necessary.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets OR 3-4 cups Brussels sprouts, trimmed & halved (leave smaller sprouts whole)
- olive oil
- kosher salt
- Prepare your grill for direct grilling over medium to medium-high heat (higher heat – more char).
- Drizzle the vegetables with enough olive oil to lightly coat, and toss with a pinch of salt.
- Spread the vegetables directly on the grill in an even layer and cook to desired tenderness (approximately 5-10 minutes).
- Transfer vegetables to a serving dish and drizzle with olive oil, season to taste, and serve immediately.
Pan Grilling Directions
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add 2-3 tbsp. olive oil and cauliflower or Brussels Sprouts and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and crisp edges begin developing. Add additional olive oil, ½ tbsp. at a time, as needed to keep skillet and cauliflower moistened.
- Sprinkle with a good pinch of salt, transfer to a serving dish, and pour remaining olive oil from the pan (there should only be a tbsp. or so) over the finished vegetables. Serve immediately.
These pair well with just about everything – roast or grilled meats, potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, etc. I’m particularly fond of Brussels sprouts with grilled cheddar-Swiss sammies or albacore-Swiss tuna melts.