It happens every year like clockwork. I call it my Three Stages of Autumnal Culinary Acceptance.
You saw Stage One last week: The Denial. I stubbornly refuse to even entertain the notion that summer is over. So, in the middle of October I start making a variety of frozen, pool party worthy treats. I present Exhibits #1-3: This Fall’s Blackberry-Red Wine Ice Cream; Fall 2010’s Frozen Strawberry Margarita Pie; Fall 2009’s Mango & Raspberry Sorbets. See? I have problem. And then comes Stage Two: The Acceptance. I go all in – throwing myself into as many new seasonal recipes that I can get my hands on. During this phase, I usually find at least one or two stand out recipes that earn a permanent place in my cooking repertoire (fancy word, right). Which brings me to this recipe for Roasted Curried-Cauliflower. Amazing.
I stumbled across this recipe online. I’d never cooked a curried vegetable dish before but I was drawn to its use of spices: the coriander, cumin and, of course, the curry. I felt it would be a comforting dish. Attached to the recipe were 100 reader reviews that were overwhelmingly glowing: “This was the best way I’ve ever had cauliflower, I couldn’t stop eating it.” and “Fabulous! We all loved it and I am telling all my friends about it.” These were reviews for a cauliflower dish. Cauliflower! When have you ever heard anyone talk about cauliflower with such passion and excitement? I had to try this dish.
Plus, the recipe called for Hungarian Paprika – which I just happen to have. This was meant to be. (No Hungarian Paprika? No biggie. Use the standard-everyday variety.)
I made a few slight changes (largely based off of the online reviews). I adjusted the vinegar down and changed the amount of cumin and coriander to reflect that I was using ground spices and not the seeds called for in the original recipe. I added toasted black and yellow mustard seeds.
Since I was cooking a whole head of cauliflower, I invited a few friends over to help test it out – a good friend of mine cooked a fabulous cinnamon-braised brisket.
The Roasted Curried-Cauliflower did not disappoint. The subtle earthiness of the cauliflower, smoky quality of the spices and fresh heat of the cilantro, played well with the occasional touch of sweetness from the caramelized onions. Next time I’ll use less vinegar (this is reflected in the below recipe). While you want a bit of acidity and brightness to cut through the deep spices, we all agreed that the original proportions slightly overpowered the dish.
For a complete dish, you could toss in some strips of grilled chicken breast.
Oh, I almost forgot…my Third Stage of Autumnal Culinary Acceptance…Indulgence. This usually happens on Thanksgiving.
Adapted from Epicurious.com
1 head of cauliflower cut into florets (2lb cauliflower, roughly)
1 large onion, peeled, cut into eights
¼ TSP yellow mustard seeds, whole
¼ TSP black mustard seeds, whole
½ TSP ground coriander
½ TSP ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
3 TBL red wine vinegar
2 TSP curry powder
1 ½ TSP Hungarian hot paprika
2 TSP Kosher salt
chopped fresh cilantro, as garnish
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Place cauliflower florets in large roasting pan. Pull apart onion eights into separate layers; add to cauliflower. Stirring occasionally, add black and yellow mustard seeds in a small skillet over medium heat until the yellow seeds darken slightly, about 4-5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat, add cumin and coriander to skillet and stir constantly (ground spices will burn quickly) for 1 minute. Crush coarsely in mortar with pestle.
Place toasted spices in medium bowl. Whisk in oil, vinegar, curry powder, paprika, and salt. Pour dressing over vegetables; toss to coat. Spread vegetables in single layer.
Roast vegetables until tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes. (Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Rewarm in 450°F oven 10 minutes, if desired.)
Mound vegetables in large bowl. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro. Serve warm or at room temperature.