Mid-February marks the time of year when I begin to notice signs that spring will come again. A warmer day here and there. Some sunlight. Days are noticeably longer than the last time I thought about it.
And it is also time for a slight adjustment in my taste for foods. Though the season has not really changed, I find that I still want comfort foods, maybe with just a simpler, cleaner preparation. Just don't load it up with cheese or creamy sauces. I want pure, simple vegetables with a little crunch and the merest hint of a flavor accent.
Like, say .... roasted vegetables with a hint of seasoning. Cauliflower, perhaps. With olive oil, salt, pepper and cumin. Maybe a little squeeze of lime, or lemon, if that's what you have on hand. Cumin seed, if you want a little more crunch, but ground cumin is just perfect too.
I've had a note to pair cauliflower with cumin floating around in my "must try" file for quite some time. I like cauliflower, but it is not one of the vegetables I think of first, maybe because it is all too often served mushy or soft and drowning in cheese sauce. It's OK like that once in a while, but there are so many better ways to enjoy the sweet crunchy flavor that cauliflower has.
When I was a kid, we used to eat raw cauliflower, broken into flowerets and dipped in mayonnaise mixed with curry powder. It was great that way -- crunchy with a creamy curry punch. Even at the time, it seemed to me an unlikely palate pleaser for kids, but we loved it. So when I considered cauliflower with cumin -- one of my very favorite spices -- I guess it isn't so very different than the curry flavor I remember.
In case you just dropped in from another planet, roasting vegetables is about the easiest way to prepare them and the flavors are greatly enhanced in the process, so here's how to roast cauliflower with a little cumin. Fast, easy, healthy, seasonal -- what's not to love?
1 head fresh cauliflower
fresh lime or lemon juice - optional
salt and pepper
ground cumin or cumin seeds
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower and rinse it. Break and/or cut the cauliflower into flowerets, trimming the stems to desired length. In a plastic bag or bowl, toss cauliflower with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil mixed with lime or lemon juice. Spread cauliflower on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin - I like about a teaspoon of ground cumin per large head of cauliflower. Use as much or as little as you want. Place baking sheet in oven and cook for about 20 minutes. Check cauliflower to make sure it is not completely brown and continue to roast until you see lots of nice brown caramelizing on all the pieces. Remove from oven and serve hot or room temperature. Leftovers, if there are any, can be chopped to use in other dishes, such as soups, stews, omelets, quiche or on cold or warm salads.