Roasting transforms cauliflower into an entirely different vegetable than the one you might have encountered before. The intense, dry heat of the oven turns the edges of the florets crisp and brown and their interiors tender and juicy; its flavor mellows, turning towards nutty and sweet. I can never resist munching a few pieces directly from the baking sheet, kissed merely with olive oil, salt, and black pepper.
Now, if you happen to drizzle a luscious tahini dressing over this already wondrous roasted cauliflower, one rich with the round, nutty, smoky flavor of cumin and a punch of heat from red chile, then you truly have something worthy of celebration. I draped some of the roasted cauliflower spears over steamed kale and collards, drizzled everything with the tahini mixture, and showered raisins and chopped almonds on top to add texture and sweetness. The combination hit all the right notes -- savory, sweet, and smoky, tender, chewy, crunchy, and creamy.
: : : If your issues with cauliflower run particularly deep, maybe try starting with this buttery cauliflower puree. It's like mashed potatoes, only better. I dare you not to have seconds. : : :
roasted cauliflower with cumin and tahini dressing
Delectable over dark leafy greens, this would also be a good match for a whole grain such as brown rice, millet, or quinoa, or on its own as a side dish. Toast the cumin seeds in a heavy-bottomed skillet (I use cast-iron) for a few minutes until fragrant and lightly browned, stirring occasionally so they don't burn.
1 head of cauliflower, leaves and base removed, and cut into florets
Extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup tahini
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/4 tsp red chile flakes
raisins and roughly chopped almonds, to garnish
Preheat oven too 425 F.
Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl and add a glug of olive oil (2 to 3 Tbsp), a big pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss well to coat the florets evenly. Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the florets are caramelized and tender when pierced with a knife, 25 to 30 minutes.
While the cauliflower is in the oven, combine the tahini, apple cider vinegar, cumin seeds, red chile flakes, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper in a blender. Add 2 Tbsp of water, cover, and blend for a minute or two. If the dressing is too thick, gradually add more water (about a tablespoon at a time) until it reaches a pourable consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Drizzle the dressing over the cauliflower and serve sprinkled with raisins and chopped almonds.