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story.lead_photo.caption Grilled cauliflower. (Genevieve Ko/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

Whole roasted cauliflower impresses as a vegan centerpiece or fills you up as a one-dish meal. The vegetable can play the same role in outdoor cooking, but needs to be cut up first. If you haven't tried grilled cauliflower, you'll want to: It caramelizes beautifully on the outside and develops a chewy juiciness on the inside, making it the best meat alternative for live fire cooking. It's naturally a little sweet but still mild enough to serve as a canvas for any sauce or topping.

 

Grilled Cauliflower

Time: 30 minutes

These hearty cauliflower wedges can serve 4 as a side dish or 2 as a main, with the addition of sauces and toppings. They're especially good with salsa verde, mole, zhoug, hummus, or guacamole and a sprinkle of fresh herbs, sliced chiles, or nuts or seeds.

1 whole cauliflower (2 to 3 pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons everyday olive oil

 

1. Prepare an outdoor grill for direct grilling over medium-high heat.

2. Trim the stem end off the cauliflower, cutting off only any browned parts and leaving the leaves intact. Place the cauliflower upright on the cutting board and cut in quarters to form wedges. Place the wedges in a large microwave-safe bowl and season with salt. Add enough water to come 1/2 inch up the sides of the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and poke a hole in the top. Microwave until it starts to turn translucent and a paring knife slides through with some resistance, 3 to 5 minutes. Uncover and drain the water from the bowl.

3. Drizzle the oil over the cauliflower, rubbing it on to evenly coat. Sprinkle all over with salt and pepper. Place the wedges cut side down on the hot grill grate. Grill until grill marks appear and the wedges release easily from the grate, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip to the other cut side and grill until tender inside, 5 to 7 minutes. A paring knife should slide through easily. You can char the floret side too for a few minutes. Transfer to a serving platter and serve hot, warm or room temperature.

Yields: Serves 2 to 4

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