To make grilled cauliflower with a tender interior and a flavorful, nicely browned exterior, we first microwaved it until it was cooked through and then briefly grilled it to pick up color and flavor.
To ensure that the cauliflower held up on the grill without falling through the grate and to provide sufficient surface area for browning, we cut the head into wedges. Look for cauliflower with densely packed florets that feels heavy for its size.
Dunking the cauliflower in a salt and sugar solution before microwaving seasoned it all over, even in the nooks and crannies. Using tongs or a thin metal spatula to gently flip the wedges helps keep them intact.
This dish stands well on its own, but to dress it up, golden raisins plus briny capers, crunchy almonds and white wine vinegar make for a sweet, salty and tangy topping. Champagne vinegar can be used in place of white wine vinegar and regular raisins in place of golden raisins, if desired.
Start to finish: 35 minutes
1/4 cup salt
2 tablespoons sugar
1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into 6 equal wedges
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon almond, raisin and caper relish (recipe follows)
Whisk 2 cups water, salt and sugar in a medium bowl until salt and sugar dissolve. Holding each cauliflower wedge by the core, gently dunk in salt-sugar mixture until evenly moistened (do not dry — residual water will help cauliflower steam).
Transfer wedges, rounded side down, to a large plate, and cover with an inverted large bowl. Microwave until cauliflower is translucent and tender and paring knife slips easily in and out of thickest stem of florets (not core), 14-16 minutes.
Carefully transfer (bowl and cauliflower will be very hot) cauliflower to a paper towel-lined plate, and pat dry with paper towels. Brush cut sides of wedges with 1 tablespoon oil.
For a charcoal grill: Open the bottom vent completely. Light a large chimney starter three-quarters filled with charcoal briquettes (41/2 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set the cooking grate in place, cover and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
For a gas grill: Turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Place the cauliflower, cut side down, on grill, and cook, covered, until well-browned with spots of charring, 3-4 minutes. Using tongs or a thin metal spatula, flip cauliflower and cook second cut side until well-browned with spots of charring, 3-4 minutes. Flip again so cauliflower is sitting on rounded edge, and cook until browned, 1-2 minutes.
Transfer cauliflower to a serving platter. Drizzle with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, sprinkle with the chives and relish, and serve with lemon wedges.
Nutrition information per serving: 233 calories; 145 calories from fat; 16 g fat (2 g saturated, 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 1,021 mg sodium; 18 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 10 g sugar; 6 g protein.
ALMOND, RAISIN AND CAPER RELISH
Makes about 1/2 cup
2 tablespoons golden raisins
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted and chopped fine
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped fine
1 teaspoon minced fresh parsley
Pinch red pepper flakes
3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Combine the raisins and 2 tablespoons hot water in a small bowl, and let stand for 5 minutes. Drain raisins, and chop fine.
Toss the raisins and vinegar in a bowl, then stir in the almonds, capers, parsley and pepper flakes. Stir in 3 tablespoons oil; mixture should be well-moistened. If still dry, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.