27 January 2008

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin, Coriander and Chili

Roasted Cauliflower (with title)
Now I present a recipe that is friendly in so many ways. First of all, it's a total no-brainer. Toss and heat. Second, it tastes unbelievably good (and not just "for the amount of work you put into it"-- it is really addictive). Third, it's nutritionally but not calorically dense. "Win-win-win," as Michael Scott might say. Eating a half-kilogram head of raw cauliflower (though I don't recommend that, as you deserve better) comes down to consuming only about 8% of your total carbohydrate requirements for the day, half your dietary fiber requirement, none of the fat, and close to 400% of your Vitamin C requirement (though it's too bad some of it gets cooked away). Bottom line- it's all good for you. Though you will not eat that much cauliflower by sharing this dish, I almost did finish it all by myself, were I not eating something else on the side.

I recommend this a "hundred-million percent" (is it obvious I've been following American Idol?) as the perfect substitute for roasted potatoes or fries in any such application. In fact, fuck the word "substitute," this dish deserves to be a superstar. (A "Vegetable Idol"? Okay, I'm losing it.) I've merged two recipes from the new Bon Appetit and Cook With Jamie, a truly bad-ass book. In a good way. I did away with the parcooking, almonds, milk, mash, etc. but you may certainly do your own research on how you want to approach it-- it's a very forgiving recipe. I also wanted to make inch-thick "cauliflower steaks" (showing a beautiful lacy pattern of cauliflower), but the inflorescence of the bunch I got was not very friendly and it fell apart anyway. It does lend itself well to a pretty yellow-and-white sparse composition, but feel free to use orange, green, or purple varieties, none of which exist here in Manila.

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin, Coriander and Chili

  • 500g head (18-oz) of cauliflower, washed, green leaves removed and cut into florets (half-florets if you want extra crunch)

  • sea salt

  • olive oil (add a knob of butter that has been melted for serious flavor, but I wanted to keep it wholesome)

  • 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (or 2 dried chilis)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F). Make sure the cauliflower is completely dry by patting it in between paper towels. In a sheet pan or roasting pan, toss the florets with a good glug of olive oil. In a mortar, bash the spices with a pinch of salt. Sprinkle over the florets evenly and toss well. Make sure they are laid out in a single layer on the pan. Roast in the top rack of the oven for 20 minutes, then give them a good toss to ensure even cooking, and roast for 10 minutes more or until the edges are brown and crunchy. Serve immediately.

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