Thursday, October 20, 2011

cumin seed roasted cauliflower with yogurt

with feta-yogurt, pomegranate, mint

I do this dreary thing every October where I decide on the first day that requires a scarf and a hustle in your step to keep warm that the long, gloomy descent into winter has begun and soon the world will be brown, gray and frozen and this will continue until April or beyond and I might as well stock up on some farro and root vegetables and climb into my igloo because that’s all there will be for a long time. I am clearly no fun at all, and also a little blind as I declare this while stepping over crinkly flame-throwers of leaves, while the sky is still fantastically blue and generally, without even have stepped through a farmers market. Because the markets? Are actually as pretty as they get all year, tables overflowing with everything from carrots to late summer squash, hearty greens, tiny pumpkins, marble-sized potatoes and great big globes of broccoli and cauliflower. It’s now or never to haul it home.

hello, pomegranate season
berries of winter

In the early days of blogging, the phrase Cheese Sandwich Blogs was used to unkindly refer to blogs so dull that their authors would even describe what they had for lunch that day. What we learned, in theory, was that nobody cares what you had for lunch. And yet? I’m going to tell you anyway, because it’s been abysmal: Twice this week already, it’s been cold cereal. Last week was a string of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on the kind of bread that I purchased for its extended shelf life. I’ve been passing lattes off as breakfast (it’s French and cosmopolitan, right?) and I think we’ve ordered pizza for dinner three times in three weeks (leading to three next-day lunches of cold leftover pizza). As it turns out, even people who love to cook more or less eat terribly when they’re working around the clock to meet a deadline. Or, ahem, have missed a deadline, not that anyone is counting. But today, today I had this for lunch and the world has so much brighter since.

mm, brains


The recipe is from Melissa Clark’s new cookbook, Cook This Now. You might know her from her blog, or her New York Times column, or maybe her 32 cookbooks before this one. You could say she keeps busy. Perhaps she could even teach me a thing or two about finishing books? Her latest is a collection of her favorite things to whip up at home for her family (she has a daughter a little older and almost as cute as my little buddy) and it’s divided by months of the year, which I love because it tells me exactly where to start. The October chapter gave me an excuse to bring home even more cauliflower pretties from the market. You toss it with olive oil, whole cumin seeds, salt and lots of black pepper and roast it until your apartment smells so good that you reach into the oven to steal a piece. She suggests adding a few pinches of salt to yogurt, but I whirled my yogurt in the blender with some feta, something I love against cumin and yogurt. You finish it with mint and pomegranate seeds and I don’t think I have descended upon/inhaled a single dish in the middle of the day with such vigor since this one. Back then, my excuse for not eating proper meals was a burrito of a newborn; this time around, it’s a beast of a project, but I love that in both cases the day was saved by a something as humble as cauliflower.

roasted with cumin seed
cumin seed roasted cauliflower

Cauliflower, previously: My other favorite cauliflower dish also involves cumin seeds (plus potatoes and more Indian spices) plus there’s a slew of cauliflower recipes in the archives.

One year ago: Apple and Cheddar Scones and Cauliflower and Parmesan Cake
Two years ago: Jalapeno-Cheddar Scones and Apple Cider Doughnuts
Three years ago: My Family’s Noodle Kugel, Meatballs and Spaghetti, Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad and Pumpkin Swirl Brownies
Four years ago: Gazpacho Salad, Hello Dolly Bars, Butternut Squash and Caramelized Onion Galette and Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Five years ago: Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons and Wild Mushroom and Stilton Galette

Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt, Mint and Pomegranate
Adapted from Melissa Clark’s Cook This Now

This dish gets an amazing amount of flavor out of just a few ingredients. That said, if you’re not into cauliflower, it would probably be good with broccoli. And if you’re not into cauliflower or broccoli, well, you must have driven your mother batty when you were little, didn’t you? Ahem, what I meant to say was that I think it could work with other things, like potatoes or squash. But really, you should try it with the cauliflower. You might find you’ve eaten half the dish before you even left the kitchen.

Serves 2, probably

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large head cauliflower (mine was 1 3/4 pounds)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt (I used whole milk yogurt, Greek style)
1/4 cup crumbled feta (optional)
Chopped fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving

Preheat oven to 425°F. Brush a large baking sheet or roasting pan with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.

Cut your cauliflower into bite-size florets but no need to make them all evenly sized. The smaller ones get more blistery, the bigger ones retain more texture and they’ll all be happy mingled together. Toss florets with remaining olive oil, cumin seeds, salt and pepper and spread out on prepared tray. Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until cauliflower is tender and its edges are toasty.

Either whisk a pinch of salt into your yogurt or to make feta-yogurt sauce blend 3/4 cup yogurt with feta in a food processor until smooth. Dollop on cauliflower then sprinkle dish with mint and pomegranate seeds. Eat immediately and vow to seriously make more effort in the lunch department if it can be this easy.


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