Cauliflower is one of those misunderstood vegetables. It is sad how frequently a veggie tray is pitched with all empty bins, except for the one overflowing with white florets And I'm sorry to say that I was guilty of this at one point. Growing up, I thought a side of steamed cauliflower was a served as a punishment for particularly naughty behavior (what, I never found out). This hatred extended into my post-college years and an Indian-spiced dish by the name of sookhi gobi. One bite and I was changed forever, completely converted to the cauliflower-side. I realized that it's not bland or boring, just a blank canvas. All it needs is a little color!
I'm still not a convert to raw cauliflower. It has a unique texture that is firm, yet spongy and the same time. And the flavor on its own is a mild, almost milky taste. But when this veggie is roasted or grilled, it is truly magnificent. It the subtle nutty flavor is amplified and the sweetness intensified. Originally, we would make this dish with only cauliflower, but it has evolved to include zucchini when we have it on hand. It's still fabulous with only florets.
This is a simplified version of the Indian-spiced sookhi gobi which I mentioned above (I made Madhur Jaffrey's version once for an Indian potluck and was asked to share the recipe....boo-yah). The big flavors here are only two - garlic and cumin. And these are two of the hub's favorites. He throws them on grilled and roasted meats and vegetables like most people use salt and pepper. So this reicpe is frequently made in our home. All it takes is a hot oven, a big bowl and a roasting sheet. It's easy enough to make on a weeknight but yummy enough to serve to a crowd with confidence (and perhaps a bit of smugness).
Beware, you may make this very, very often.
Roasted Garlic Cumin Cauliflower (3-4 servings)
- 1 head cauliflower (about 16-18 oz)
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- 1 heaping tbs minced garlic
- 1 tsp ground cumin (we throw in an extra 1/4)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp fresh black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Cut the cauliflower into florets around the same size, but don't worry about getting them perfect (some will turn out crispier than overs which is the best part). Slice the zucchini into matchsticks about 1/4 square, so they look like little fries. Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Drizzle vegetables with oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and toss until evenly coated.
Spray the lined baking sheet with non-stick. Remove the coated cauliflower florets from the bowl, leaving the zucchini fries and garlic in the bottom of the bowl. Place the cauliflower and roast for 8 minutes (the cauliflower takes a bit longer to cook than the zucchini).
Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the zucchini fries to the baking sheet, distributing evenly amongst the cauliflower. Sprinkle the remaining garlic in the bowl over the top of the vegetables, then place the pan back in the oven. Roast for an additional 20-25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the vegetables are slightly charred around the edges. Serve hot.