(Curry roasted cauliflower, crunchy oven roasted chickpeas, topped with roasted garlic tahini yogurt sauce and garnished with pomegranate jewels - recipe in post)
This may scare some of you, but I like cauliflower - I like it steamed and mashed into 'faux'tatoes, or blended into a warm and creamy soup, or even raw atop my salads. No, my mother never had to force me to eat my veggies. But, to those who don't consider themselves a fan of the florets, I say to you this: you've never had cauliflower like this.
Roasting cauliflower in the oven is brilliant, because in many other forms of cooking it tends to go from raw to mush with little space between. The flavor is mild, and great for picking up seasoning, but since it's made mostly of water there's little room to absorb such flavors when steamed or boiled. Roasting, however, solves both of these issues.
I was inspired to make this after having a similar dish as an appetizer at a little Middle Eastern restaurant a few nights ago - I'd never tried roasted cauliflower, but was so impressed I immediately went home to make it for myself.
Another little element I stole from the restaurant's dish was to use pomegranate seeds for garnish. It seemed like a strange addition to the Indian flavors on the plate, but as it turned out the bright pop of flavor (and color) worked beautifully with everything.
Roasting garbanzo beans (chickpeas) is a simple trick that turns the little legumes into crunchy, nutty snackables. I thought the contrast of texture would be a nice addition to the dish, but lightly toasted slivered almonds would be nice as well.
With the chickpeas and the cauliflower alike the flavor possibilities huge, all depending on whatever seasonings you feel like shaking in, but sometimes I just can't get enough of curry. Feel free to play with these recipes to suit your taste.
A fun twist on this would be to use orange or purple cauliflower. In recipes that call for steaming and mashing, the colored cauliflowers tend to get washed out and end up just looking grey and unappetizing, but in this application I think they would add a wonderfully vibrant burst of color - unfortunately, this time of year, all I could find was regular white. Still, the seasoning and roasting adds a nice warmth to the dish.
Besides being pretty to look at, this dish is easy to make, delicious to eat, and healthy to boot. Here's what I threw together:
Curry Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Garlic Tahini Sauce
Makes 3-4 servings, depending on the size of your cauliflower
15 oz. cooked, or 1 can drained, garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp. curry powder
1/8th tsp. cayenne powder
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375f.
Toss all ingredients in a bowl to combine, then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast on middle rack for 40-50 minutes, or until nutty and crunchy.
Remove from oven and serve as is, over salad, or set aside for the rest of this dish.
Curry roasted cauliflower
1 head cauliflower (white, orange, or purple)
2 TBSP olive oil
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 425f.
Cut cauliflower into florets and add to a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, and then with spices and seasoning, to coat thoroughly.
Spread florets onto a baking sheet, making room between them so they roast, not steam.
Place on the middle rack of the oven and cook 30-40 minutes, or until tender and the edges have darkened, shaking the pan or stirring once or twice during cooking.
Remove from oven and serve as is, or set aside to use in the rest of this dish.
Garlic Tahini Sauce
(Note: to make the dish vegan, substitute this with hummus)
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed paste)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
1/2 lemon, juiced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced or roasted and mashed
1/4 tsp. salt
3 TBSP fresh mint, parsley, or cilantro - chopped, plus extra for garnish
Optional: 2-4 TBSP water or milk
Stir together all ingredients except mint/parsley/cilantro, microwave for 10-15 seconds to loosen the mixture, then stir in fresh herbs.
Note: to make the sauce thinner and more dressing like, stir in water or milk until desired consistency is reached.
Combine Cauliflower and chickpeas in a bowl, and serve with a dollop of tahini sauce (or hummus), or keep the sauce on the side and use as a dip. Garnish with 1/4-1/2 cup pomegranate seeds.