the much maligned cauliflower
Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart (from Bon Appetit, via Smitten Kitchen)
This was declared a winner from our first summer of trying out recipes. It also wins for the most decadent of dishes, and the least fitting in any category of healthy diet fads. This beauty boasts three kinds of cheese (mascarpone, parmesan, and gruyere-- I usually substitute Roth's Grand Cru). It's possibly better suited for fall eating as you roast the cauliflower first, and then bake the tart for another half hour or so, but I usually can find a cool summer evening to make this too.
Gobi Manchurian (I usually meld a mishmash of recipes but this one from Saveur is probably the closest.
This one of my favorite dishes from the local Indian Buffet, and while it's putzy to make at home it's so very good made from scratch. Historically it comes from a fun meld of food cultures, and has a sweet, Chinese take-out flavor mixed with the more complex Indian spices. You can make it super spicy for a hot day too.
There are quite a few easier but (almost as) tasty Indian dishes for cauliflower:
this one, this is a really good overall Indian recipe resource--her pakoras recipe is also great and you can stick cauliflower in there too!) Gobi Palak Kofta Curry: sadly the site I found this on is not working now, but it's a spinach/cauliflower dumpling made with chickpea flour in a spicy, tomato/yogurt-based sauce (okay this is almost as putzy as the manchurian dish). There's also a lot of mixed vegetable curries, both "dry" and saucy versions, that can use cauliflower (and a ton of other produce), it's one my favorite ways to cook in high summertime.
Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake, Ottolenghi, via Smitten
I find that Smitten does a good job of streamlining some of the more elaborate "chef-y" recipes, and seems to parse out the better recipes out of a popular book like this one (it's from Plenty). I make a half-batch of this for two of us and either use a small skillet or loaf pan to bake it. This is kind of like a more substantial frittata than a cake, but it's interesting and cool, and I might just make it tonight. It's a hearty vegetarian main, though I did add bacon once and wasn't un-pleased with the results.
Another Ottolenghi recipe I tried was Cauliflower and Cumin Fritters, via Food and Wine.
I only made these once but my notes say that they were a hit, I should make them again.
When I'm looking for vegetable comfort food, BBC Good food is my jam. Brit recipes can be a lovely counterbalance to barely cooked, earnestly healthy superfood. Any veggie can be "cheesed" really, it's pretty much just a simple mornay sauce with some extra mustard. In fact, I often make a classic Wisconsin-style baked mac and cheese in the wintertime, and just add a package of frozen garden veggies--often a broccoli and cauliflower mix. It makes a decadent side dish into a more satisfying main.
And, while cauliflower is often featured in fall/winter recipes, my "spring" crop is usually ready to eat in late June and into August, when I'm not necessarily feeling like turning on the oven. I throw florets on the grill, or onto pizzas, into stir fries, or pasta dishes. There's always pickling (I made a lemony refrigerator pickle from Food in Jars last year that went over really well. And, the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook has a Cauliflower pesto recipe that is perfect for a hot summer day.
So there you have it, a compendium of cauliflower. Have at it! Or, if you have another favorite, let me know!