When the nights turn blustery and the temperature drops, I know that roasted vegetable season has arrived, and I embrace it with reckless abandon. I'll roast any kind of sturdy vegetable that I can cut up and fit into my oven, but one of my favorites is cauliflower, preferably tossed with whole cumin seeds. Not only does the cumin act as a natural remedy to help reduce the dreaded intestinal gas factor (or so I've been told), but it also adds a pleasant earthy flavor to balance the assertive tang of the vegetable.
Roasted cauliflower with cumin makes a nice and simple side dish. Even Dahlia will eat it if she's distracted enough. But recently I made it into lunch. I roasted up a small head all for myself, and added a topping of salted yogurt (which is simply a good, full-fat yogurt with a little kosher salt mixed in), a few leftover pomegranate seeds (which I can buy at my local market already picked out of the husk), and a smattering of bright green chopped fresh mint. It was a perfect light lunch. It could even be dinner, served over brown rice, bulgur, or some other filling, toasty grain, for a warming meal to start out roasting season right.
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Plain yogurt, for serving
Chopped fresh mint leaves, for serving
Pomegranate seeds, for serving
Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, cumin seeds, salt, and pepper. Spread the mixture in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and its edges are toasty, 20 to 30 minutes.
Whisk a pinch of salt into the yogurt. Dollop the yogurt on top of the cauliflower and strew the mint and pomegranate seeds over the yogurt.
Don't worry if your florets seem unevenly cut. The bigger pieces will get tender and golden, while the little bits get crispy-caramelized all over. I think it makes for an excellent contrast of textures.
I abhor the chalky texture of low-fat yogurts, so please use full-fat for this dish. The only exception I've found is 2 percent plain Greek yogurt, which tastes more or less like the real deal.
If you don't have pomegranate seeds, just leave them off. The dish is lovely enough without them.
From Cook This Now by Melissa Clark. Copyright 2011, Melissa Clark, Inc. Published by Hyperion. All Rights Reserved.