Sunday, November 15, 2009

Roasted cauliflower and eggs

If you haven't discovered it yet, roasted cauliflower completely blows boiled or steamed out of the water. Instead of mush, you get a beautifully caramelized vegetable. It is also a cinch, can be varied in interesting ways, and combined with eggs in various forms, makes a nice main dish.

All you do is:
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Wash the cauliflower and separate it into medium florets. Dice the center stem as well, and if you want it, the thick ribs from the leaves, pulling off the strings like you would do for celery.
  3. Oil a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with a peanut or olive oil, or spray it with oil spray. (If you want to make clean up a lot easier, line it with foil first. Sprinkle it with coarse salt --we usually use Maldon sea salt for this and much else.
  4. Put the cauliflower on the sheet, spray and sprinkle with salt.
  5. Bake. How long does it take? It depends (on the density of the cauliflower, how hot your oven really is, the type of pan and how crowded it is, etc.), so taste, but about 15-20 minutes should do it, until the cauliflower is lightly browned. If you are going to cook the cauliflower more later and like it on the crisp side, less is more.
  6. Broil for a about 5-10 minutes more until done how you want it. Well browned is nice, carbonized is excessive.
  7. Serve hot, warm, room temperature or cold. It is great dipped into tahini or hummus, and is even better in one of the following egg dishes.
Variation #1: instead of spraying, toss the cauliflower with oil.

Variation #2: after tossing the cauliflower with oil, sprinkle it with curry powder. (I use a sieve for this to make it a bit more even.) After Madhur Jaffrey's Invitation to Indian Cooking came out in the early 1970s, I did not use curry powder for over 20 years. My loss. Although her opposition to prepared curry powder was a useful corrective to what passed for Indian food inthose days, I hope we have all moved beyond the ostentatious attachment to authenticity.

Cauliflower with eggs, North-Indian style
  1. Heat 1-3 tablespoons fat of choice in a very large nonstick skillet on medium-high heat. Peanut or vegetable oil or ghee would be nice.
  2. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of whole cumin seeds.
  3. When they begin to sizzle and darken a few shades, add a dried red chili or two if you like and then add add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon turmeric and stir.
  4. Add one large onion, cut in half and sliced thin. Salt lightly and cook until soft and at least lightly browned. The more fat, the easier the browning, but you don't necessarily want them crisp here.
  5. Add ginger, garlic and green chili to taste. (For example, a 1 inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped fine, 5 cloves of chopped garlic, and a chili or two, seeded if you want the flavor without some of the heat. You can use more, less, or none at all of these).
  6. Stir for a few minutes, and if you want add 1 tablespoon ground coriander and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. If you add these spices, you might want to also add a diced tomato or two (canned is better than OK), which will round out the dish and give the spices more time to loose their raw flavor. Stir and cook a few minutes more, lowering the heat so the spices don't burn.
  7. Add the cauliflower (or as much of it as you want or can fit) , and if you have any roasted potatoes lying around, add them too (they are worth making for this) and fry together, stirring occasionally, until the flavors are well blended and the cauliflower is hot.
  8. Make a well in the center, add a little more of your cooking fat, and add 1-4 eggs, beaten lightly and salted.
  9. Cook until the eggs are set, stirring a bit, and then break them up and mix with the cauliflower. Sprinkle lightly with garam masala (Indian mixed roasted spices) or ground roasted cumin.
  10. Turn into a serving dish and garnish with a handful of chopped fresh coriander.
  11. Serve with flatbreads -- chapatis or parathas best, good pita more than acceptable. This makes a great main dish with a salad (esp a yogurt and cucumber salad). It is often my wife's main dish of choice.
Cauliflower Kookoo (Iranian fritata)

We had this the Friday night for dinner when we were having Persian Jewish food and a number of the guests were vegetarian and therefore missed out on some of the best Chicken with Quince we have ever made (not our skill, but the quince were incredibly flavorful). It is extremely simple.
  1. Brown a medium-large halved sliced onion in olive oil.
  2. Mix the onion, 6 or seven beaten eggs, and a handful of chopped fresh together. Stir in some cauliflower -- we used about half a head here.
  3. Heat a 9 inch nonstick skillet on medium high heat.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Heat until it shimmers.
  5. Add the egg mixture and shake the pan to even it out.
  6. After about a minute, when you start to see sizzling around the edges, turn the heat to low and cook about 20 minute until the eggs are almost set.
  7. Broil 5 minutes to finish cooking and brown the top.
  8. Good hot, warm cold, and reheats well.
Shakshuka with Cauliflower

Shakshuka is a Tunisian Jewish dish served in a lot of Israeli restaurants. It is just eggs poached in spicy tomato sauce. We found that it is very nice with roasted veggies, cooked the sauce before you add the eggs. Here is our variation with cauliflower:
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium heat in a 10-12 inch skillet with a cover.
  2. Add 5 or more cloves of chopped garlic. Do not brown.
  3. When soft, as a chopped jalapeno, leaving seeds in if you want it hot and stir a bit.
  4. Add a handful of chopped flatleaf parsley and stir a bit, then add 1 tablespoon tomato paste and stir.
  5. Add a 15 oz can of chopped tomatoes -- I am partial to the chopped cherry tomatoes from Italy under the del Valle label. Add salt to taste.
  6. Cook about 15 minutes until the oil begins to separate, adding a bit of water if it is too thick.
  7. Add a cup or two of roasted cauliflower and heat through.
  8. Turn heat to medium low, make 4 depressions, and add 4 eggs. Cover the skill. Cook gently about 4 or 5 minutes. The white should still be set but the yolk soft.
  9. Serve with pita bread for dipping. (I like thick pita with this -- the kind produced by Pita Express in Brooklyn in excellent here.) It tastes best when you eat it together from the common skillet, but these days of H1N1, you may want to serve it on plates. Use a spatula to take the eggs out so they don't break.

1 comment:

  1. My favorite is roasted vegetable curry with cauliflower and sweet potato, from Moosewood Simple Suppers. It is amazing. I eat it twice a week (1 dinner, 1 lunch).