08 July 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin, Coriander and Almonds

Back before I left for Portugal, I was dieting HARD.  I promised some healthy recipes, and never posted them.  Oops.  Here's one of them.

When visiting Spain over the winter, I was dazed and happy about falafel.  Yeah, we ate tapas of roasted red peppers in olive oil, sheep's milk cheeses, patatas bravas, garlicky mushrooms (and the guys ate awesome meats, too).  Those were our late and lazy dinners, compounded with sangria and cañas followed by strolling scenic walks -- or tequila shots, or salsa dancing.  But our days were filled-to-bursting with sightseeing at such a near-frantic pace that sometimes we forgot to eat.  We would happen upon a kebab house and delightedly fill up our pitas with food so good that it was hard to believe we were in Iberia, and not closer to Turkey or Lebanon.

One of the treats that I discovered at these places was the roasted cauliflower.  Until then, I had never really enjoyed the white "broccoli-imposter"... I hadn't liked it when I was a child, and never warmed to it in my adult life until I had it, nearing my 30th year, walking along the streets of Barcelona.  I promised myself I would try to knock it off when we got home.

I figured out how to do it, found an absolutely giant head of cauliflower at a produce stand, and finally did it.  It's so good.  It's amazing.  Really.  Seasoned perfectly with cumin and ground coriander, tossed with some olive oil, and roasted in the oven, it makes a perfect side dish veggie (ok, I'll admit -- I ate it as my whole meal -- I was worried about that teeny weeny polka dot bikini I was scheduled to wear).  Or you can tuck them inside a pita with falafel and roasted peppers, or dip in a nice garlic-tahini-yogurt sauce for an appetizer... but it's also exquisite on its own, and doesn't require any additional flavouring due to the browned and faintly-crisped spices adhered to the outside of the florets.  Muy bueno.

Money-saving tip!
Get a nice big head of cauliflower, and don't throw away the leaves and stems.  Use them to make this soup.  You won't regret it, and you'll have a nice and happily-freezable cheapy-cheapo lunch.  Yum!

Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin, Coriander and Almonds
adapted from jamieoliver.com

1 head of cauliflower, outer green leaves removed, broken into florets
sea salt
olive oil
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground chilli powder
1/4 cup ground almonds
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6. Blanch the cauliflower in salted boiling water for a couple of minutes then drain in a colander, allowing it to steam dry (you don't want any water left in your cauliflower or it won't roast properly). Toss it in a good glug of olive oil.  Mix spices and almonds with salt and put in a hot, dry ovenproof pan to slowly toast them. After a couple of minutes, add the cauliflower. When it gets a nice bit of colour on it, add the lemon zest and juice and mix around well. Fry for about a minute longer, then pop the pan into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes to crisp up.

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