From cherries and cauliflower to grapes and pumpkins, wonderful things happen when you cook these foods whole.
There is something magical that happens when a fruit or vegetable is cooked whole. The flavors often lost to peeling, chopping, seeding and so on are instead invited to stay at the party and the whole shebang mingles under the heat to glorious ends. With foods you may be eating raw, roasting can sweeten and intensify the flavors; for foods you might normally cook anyway, cooking them whole makes for a rich toothsome texture and a lovely presentation as well. Plus, the absence of prep work makes these all exponentially easy; plus, cooking whole can increase nutrients and reduce food waste by making otherwise discarded parts taste delicious. Consider the following.
CherriesOh gosh, roasted cherries, these are the best. They are plump and busting with deep mellow cherry flavor; and roasting them with their pit gives them an almond-y edge. Some of the juice releases and makes a syrup of sorts, and the whole thing is just beautiful! Serve them over ice cream, with yogurt, on pancakes, in place of cranberries on Thanksgiving, in wintry cocktails, with cheese, on cheesecake, or, basically, with anything.
Preheat oven to 450F. Use big full cherries, wash them, sprinkle sugar on them, add a pinch of salt and spread them on a baking sheet. Roast for around 10 minutes until they start to release their juices and caramelize, but don't let the sugar burn. Add a healthy splash of brandy (or fruit juice if you prefer) and cook for another 5 minutes. Let cool a bit before serving, or allow to cool completely and refrigerate. (You can remove the pits, or warn any guests that they should. Nobody wants to lose a tooth.) The video above shows how to make a vanilla-tinged version.
ApplesBaked Apple Stuffed with Candied Ginger and Almonds.
The how-to couldn't be easier. Heat the oven to 400F, place washed whole tomatoes on a pan, drizzle them with olive oil and salt and pepper, roast until they begin to collapse. Voila.
Pumpkinhere. I refer to Stuffed Pumpkin with Quinoa, Butternut and Cranberries here. And Jerry gives a recipe for a whole baked pumpkin fondue ... pumpkin fondue ... here. That's it, pictured above. It has wine and Brie and baguette in it. It's decadent, but there you go.
CauliflowerRoasting a whole cauliflower is a thing of beauty. For those of us who don't partake in food that used to once roam the fields, a whole roasted cauliflower is like an event; it's a big roast that can do a fine stand-in for a platter of roasted meat. The New York Times video above gives a great how-to.
This yields an interior of velvety dense smooth flesh that can be topped with sauce (like above, just cut in half first) or scooped and used for dips, spreads, sauces, soups, etc.
Updated: October 10, 2019