My recipe quests arise from attempts to match an old taste memory, or a new taste experience. In this case, it's new. This time last year (Winter of 2016) the price of cauliflower was through the roof! A small head was going for $7 to $8! This winter I am seeing them priced from $2-4 - and that's good because I can't seem to get enough of this super healthy vegetable (vitamins C and D). It's one of those veggies with an ancient history that seems to originate in Syria. [Source] These days it's being served whole, sliced (snowflakes), "riced" and so on - often enhanced with glorious spices. After enjoying spiced cauliflower as an appetizer in a resto, I kept experimenting with recipes and my own inventions. The result was always edible, but never quite "right". With inspiration from the (Canadian) "Bite Me" Sisters, I achieved my goal. They have three books and a blog and aim for healthy, fast and fun food.
Here's their original recipe - I have doubled the spices and fiddled with the mixture adding turmeric and less cayenne, with a wee twist on the method.
- prep cauliflower (can be done day before)
- preheat oven to 475 F
- mix dry spices
- line rimmed baking sheet with non-stick foil
1 large head cauliflower, about 3 lbs
I'm glad they mention the weight - often it's hard to know what is meant by small, large... Break / cut the head into medium sized florets, trimming off thicker stems. (You can do this ahead of time - even the day before.)
1-2 TB sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Though I use one head of cauliflower, the spices as listed here are (mostly) double what they suggested. This makes the flavours more pronounced. I add turmeric for it's glorious colour and noteworthy health benefits. I leave the cayenne at 1/8 tsp since I am a wimp when it comes to hot, spicy flavours - add more if you prefer. Mix the spices together.
Whereas the Bite Me Sisters next drizzle butter over the cauliflower, followed by sprinkling the spice mixture, I prefer to add the dry spices first - somehow it seems to result in a more even distribution of the spices. That means you need a nice large bowl that let's you get in there - ideally with your hands - and keep flipping the cauliflower bits around until all those lovely little crevices pick up the spice mixture. A wee bit of the spice mixture inevitability gets left on the bottom - but will soon be wedded with melted butter.
6 TB melted unsalted butter
Melt the butter and pour it over the cauliflower in the same bowl, mixing with a spatula until evenly coated. Spread the cauliflower out on a rimmed baking sheet (I line mine with non-stick foil.) Bake in a 475 F oven for 18-20 minutes. Ideally, serve right away, though I like it even at room temperature. Reheating (if there are leftovers) is best done briefly in an oven.