Food Rule No. 1: Share Your Tasty Recipes

Rules to live by aren’t always the easiest rules to live with. We know, mostly, what we should eat not only to prolong our lives but simply to feel better every day. But we convince ourselves that we don’t have time or we can’t afford it or it’s too much trouble. And anyway, the dos on the lowcarb list conflict with the don’ts on the low-fat roster, so it’s way too complicated.

But clarity and inspiration both are to be found in a small book by journalism professor and food writer Michael Pollan. His “Food Rules” are direct, amusing and encouraging. Just what some of us need when our New Year’s resolve is dissolving into excuses.

Some of the rules are pretty easy to follow.”Don’t eat breakfast cereals that change the color of the milk” is simply a choice at the grocery store. But Pollan points out that a lot of what is at the grocery store isn’t so much food as it is an “edible food-like substance.” Hence rule No. 19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t. Again, simple enough on the surface.

But how do you make eating plants as easy as buying the packaged-in-the-plant concoctions? And how do you make plants as exciting as the highly advertised products exploding from the page or screen?

Another food rule (even though it’s not Pollan’s) to the rescue: Find great-tasting simple recipes and make them. And then share them. This is the rule our friend Nancy was observing when she passed on and encouraged us to try a simple and superb recipe for roasted cauliflower. Even if you think you don’t like cauliflower, try it. It’s so elegant and so tasty and so easy that it may get you thinking differently about not only cauliflower but about the subconscious rules that are determining your food choices.

The high-heat roasting fills your kitchen with warmth while beautifully caramelizing the vegetables, and a sprightly drizzle of lemon and capers brings sunshine to the dish and your day. It’s the kind of dish that transforms “food rules” from a list of admonitions to a happy acclamation: “Food RULES!”

Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Olive Oil and Capers

1 (2-pound) head cauliflower, green leaves discarded

¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or to taste

1 tablespoon drained small capers (packed in brine)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly oil a 9-inch pie plate or square baking dish. Core cauliflower, leaving head intact, then discard core and put cauliflower head in pan. Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over top of cauliflower and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Bake until tender, 1 to 1¼ hours. Transfer to a serving dish.

Whisk together lemon juice, capers, pepper and remaining ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl, then whisk in remaining ¼ cup oil. Surround cauliflower with parsley sprigs and drizzle cauliflower and parsley with dressing. Serves 6-8.

Source: Gourmet, November 2006 at

Lynne Ireland lives to eat and welcomes comments and questions from others who do (or don’t).  Contact her at