Yes, you read that correctly. I said “cacao” and I said “cauliflower.” Don’t judge until you’ve tried it. 

I have the unbelievable good fortune of working with some really good chefs. One of my long time friends, clients and cohorts is the the owner of Vosges Haut-Chocolat, Katrina Markoff. Now and then, I drive out to her beautiful home and spend half a day hanging out with her. We do a little work, a little eating and a lot of laughing.

While I am there, she is usually effortlessly whipping up something in the kitchen. Whether she is working on a new recipe, making something for her blog, or creating something interesting for her son’s lunch, the result is always delectable. And, it almost always involves chocolate.

Katrina uses various types of chocolate in recipes with the same comfort that most of us have with sugar or salt. More and more she is experimenting with chocolate in savory recipes. Often she laughs at others’ dismay and reveals that she believes there is almost nothing with which chocolate will not marry.

Last month, she created this Roasted Cacao Cauliflower recipe. The gnarled veggie has never been high on my list. I’ve never disliked cauliflower entirely but it rarely makes it into my shopping cart. One bite of Katrina’s creation and my relationship with cauliflower is forever changed.

The unsweetened cocoa powder brings out the roasted elements of the vegetable. I learned from the master that I have been under salting all my roasted foods. You need a heavy dose of salt with generous amounts of olive oil for the tastiest results. The cacao tinged, dark edged florets are delicious on their own but dip them into her simple, Mediterranean yogurt dip to take the flavor to the moon.

Somehow, Katrina has a way of making the most simple things exotic. She even did it with cauliflower. Go ahead and try it. You’ll see.

Roasted Cacao Cauliflower with Yogurt Dip

For the cauliflower:
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil
sea salt, Maldon or Murray River
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cacao (I prefer Valrhona)

Preheat the oven 400 degrees. Place cauliflower florets on a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a buttery and smooth olive oil (not too peppery or grassy.) Sprinkle a few generous pinches of sea salt on top and toss the florets gently to coat. Sprinkle the cocoa powder over the top evenly. Bake for 30 minutes.

Yogurt Dip
2 garlic cloves
¾ ounce, 21 g mint leaves (1 big handful)
cilantro leaves, small handful
16 ounces Greek plain yogurt
¼ tsp sea salt
juice of ½ a lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp toasted cumin seeds or caraway for garnish

Put all the ingredients except the cumin seeds in a blender (I can’t live without my vitamix). Puree until smooth. Sprinkle toasted cumin seeds on top and drizzle with additional olive oil.

Katrina also suggests a side of grilled naan:

For the Naan
naan bread
olive oil
sea salt, Maldon
70% dark chocolate

Brush the naan with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt. Grill on each side for about 3 minutes or until hot. Cut into 1 inch strips and sprinkled with finely grated dark chocolate.