I’ve remarked on this blog how cauliflower and broccoli were vegetables I struggled with, due to their mistreatment by the cooks at the boarding school I ate in for four years. It was often a case of “Please sir, don’t give us any more” when it came to the sodden mush formerly known as vegetables served up every night.
(It should be noted that we had lots of lovely food in the school, too. Some mornings we had warm croissants and honey, and about four times a year we got strawberries and cream for dessert. There was a pretty much constant supply of Coco Pops and lots of relatively fresh salads on Wednesdays. So, we did quite well, really. It was just the vegetables that seemed to suffer the most.)
If I’ve made one food discovery this year that I will take forward with me throughout the rest of my cooking days, it is that roasting is more often than not the best way to cook vegetables. The roasted broccoli pasta dish is now a firm favourite in this house.
More recently, I discovered a stunning recipe for roasted cauliflower on one of my fave food blogs, Smitten Kitchen. I’ve made it a number of time since, but, in an unintentional bout of selfishness, have neglected to share it with you until now. This is such a simple yet outstandingly satisfying dinner, that you I must simply insist you to try it for yourself!
The recipe makes a good sized lunch or dinner for one. I would imagine this would work just as well doubled. It also makes for a gorgeously unusual side dish.
The first time I made this, I stuffed it into to a steak sambo and it was fecking amazing. I stuffed the bun with rare steak and used the cauliflower as a topping, getting a good dollop of harissa yoghurt in there too.
I’d be inclined to pair it with roast chicken or beef, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t go with most roast meats.
What you need for Roast Cauliflower for 1 to 2 people as a main
1 head of cauliflower (get a good big one so you can feed two!)
1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
50 to 100g of feta cheese, crumbled (you can decide how much you want)
A few sprigs of fresh mint leaves
Greek-style natural yoghurt (use Glenisk’s if you can, it’s the best)
1/2 teaspoon of harissa paste
Start by pre-heating the oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas mark 7.
Chop the cauliflower into bite-size florets and give it a good wash. Put onto a baking tray or into a roasting dish and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle the cumin seeds, salt and pepper evenly over the cauliflower florets. Roast them for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and starting to crispen up.
Meanwhile, crumble your feta and chop your fresh mint leaves. Half your pomegranate and remove the lovely seeds. Set the seeds aside for serving.
Transfer the cauliflower into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta, remembering that you can decide how much or how little you want – some people find feta over-powering so you don’t want to distract attention from the lovely cauliflower. As you may notice from the photos, I completely forgot to add it when I made it that particular time. It’s optional but it does add another dimension to the dish, so give it a go.
Top with a sprinkling of those gorgeous pomegranate seeds and some freshly chopped mint.
Finally, mix 3 tablespoons of lovely greek yoghurt with the harissa paste. Dollop the cauliflower with the spicy yoghurt and serve hot.
As you’ve read your way through that recipe, no doubt you’ve remarked on my beautiful new plates. These were a thoroughly thoughtful for-no-reason gift from my pal Alan, who write the Bitzl R music blog. Here’s one of his favourite music videos of late, which is the track Hey Sparrow from California husband and wife duo Peaking Lights.