Soil&Spice recipe No.12;Whole Roasted Cauliflower

Roasting a head of Cauliflower transforms it completely, the humble vegetable becomes moreish and a feast to have, it is a very communal dish, that is wonderful eaten with bare hands between two people and makes for the most romantic of meals at the lowest of prices.

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Cauliflower is the quintessential winter vegetable, highly underestimated as unfortunately all the best things in life are. In the wrong hands it can become deadly both in taste and smell. However when it’s prepared and cooked the way it should, it is one of my favourite vegetables, its creamy, delicate and so versatile, as its flavours go so well with the savoury tones of ripe green olives, Anchovies and the heat of red chilies.

Cauliflower was primarily cultivated in Arab countries, and made its way to Cyprus, by the 16th century it had become very popular in both Italy and France. Brittany being the region famous for its cultivation.

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How to buy Cauliflower…

The heart or the flower region has to be white and compact, surrounded by firm green leaves. Always hold the Cauliflower in hand before buying, it should weigh more than you would have supposed it to weigh for its size, the heavier the flower the more water and sugars it contains, this brings me to something I always hold true.

Never buy Vegetables from vendors that do not let you touch and hold their produce in hand prior to buying, I am not sending you all to grope each and every vegetable on the stall, or to make a mess, be respectful, but feeling the weight, and smelling the fruit or vegetable before buying, is a right you should hold on to, any vendor that does not allow that does not fully respect the client and the produce he is selling.

Roasting a head of Cauliflower transforms it completely, the humble vegetable becomes moreish and a feast to have, it is a very communal dish, that is wonderful eaten with bare hands between two people and makes for the most romantic of meals at the lowest of prices.

Ingredients.

  • A head of Cauliflower, buy the freshest one you find.
  • Juice of one lemon
  • Olive oil (Plenty and preferably extra virgin)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • I used Chilli flakes and Sumac (optional)you can use any spice you want, it’s really up to you and whoever you are sharing your cauliflower with.

How To.

  • Before roasting the cauliflower, you have to steam it for about 10 minutes, for those of you who like me don’t own a steamer, place a metal cake tin of same size as the base of the cauliflower inside a pot and fill with water until midway of the tin, squeeze a lemon in the water, the acid in the water will neutralise the methane emitted on cooking the cauliflower, and well your house will not smell like fart. And that’s good.
  • Delicately lift the cauliflower from the water using a clean tea towel, to avoid burning your hands, do not use tongs as they might damage the head, remember you want an intact flower to roast, not a mangled one.

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  • Place the cake tin you used for steaming inside a bigger roasting tin, this will help keep the shape intact.
  • Rub the cauliflower with plenty of oil, don’t be shy, massage the hell out of it, use plenty of good oil, season well and introduce your own spices, I chose Sumac for its pleasant bitter/tart taste which compliments the sweetness of the cauliflower perfectly, chili is an obvious choice, the heat although not intense makes the dish more grown up, and somehow I always associate chili with fun and light-heartedness?
  • Place the whole thing in a hot oven, use the hottest setting, mine goes up to 240 degrees, some go up only to 200 degrees, use whatever maximum your oven is ready to offer.

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  • Take out and serve warm, you can prepare some saffron mayonnaise with it, or a good fresh olive tapenade, some good bread and wine, and a hungry companion.
  • Eat.

 

 

 

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