I’m thinking and I’m thinking hard, but I don’t remember eating cauliflower before 2003. That was the year that I studied design in Paris as an exchange student. No seriously, I don’t think I ate it, I don’t remember my mother cooking it or even forcing me to eat it. But then suddenly in Paris I started eating it in big amounts. Why? Because I was trying to live in Paris with a small student budget most of which went to rent and cauliflower was cheap!
At that time I wasn’t good at cooking or baking. In the apartment that I lived there wasn’t even an oven, which is something that I cannot even think right now. A flat without an oven? Hell no!! But I could cook enough to survive, and let’s face it, even if i cooked shit I had to eat that because eating out all the time or even most of the time was an impossible thing to do budget-wise.
So I just boiled cauliflower a little first then pan roasted with lots of spices. I also added a bit of potato since it was yet another cheap veggie. Other things I cooked and ate a lot were broccoli and zucchini. That was the first time that I was ever abroad. I hadn’t even been abroad for holiday before that. I was amazed by the size of cucumber. For me cucumber was a nice little green vegetable, but in Paris they were as long as my arm (and so they are in Helsinki and I’m so used to it that I feel surprised when I see small ones in my visits to Turkey – one gets used to everything).
Since my Paris adventure I came a long way in cooking. It was Paris that endeared cauliflower to me, but I learned a lot what to do with it ever since. This recipe today is my new favourite way of cooking cauliflower. Spices and roasting. Especially cumin, my favourite spice, goes great together with cauliflower. Try it, and you’ll be really, really happy!!
Difficulty: ★☆☆ (Easy)
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (preferable freshly squeezed)
1 big cauliflower head or 2 small ones*, prepared to cut as steak**
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp salt (or more if you like it saltier)
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced finely
1/2 tbsp paprika paste***
1 tsp dried mint
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 can chopped tomatoes with juice, if there are nice, juicy tomatoes in where you live, just use 2-3 tomatoes and dice them keeping the juice (here the tomatoes are not that good and I also like the thick juice of canned tomatoes for this particular recipe)
3-4 spring onions, both white and green parts chopped finely (if your spring onions are very thick, then 2-3 would be enough)
1 dl packed parsley, chopped finely****
1 hot green pepper, go as hot as you like or can deal with, chopped finely
1 garlic cloves, minced really really finely (you can omit this if you don’t want it garlicky)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1 tsp pomegranate syrup (optional)
*I couldn’t find any big cauliflower heads since it is not really the season, so I bought 2 small ones, which yielded to 4 steaks and lots of extra small florets. I made the steaks only and the remaining florets I used later in another recipe. You can roast the florets with the steaks too if you want of course. In this case, 2 small or 1 big cauliflower would be enough for 2 people. However, if you want to eat steaks only as in this recipe, double the amount of cauliflower – which will make 8 small steaks or 4 big ones for 2 people.
**Preparing means taking out the green bits and pieces at the bottom but keeping the bottom which hold everything together as much as possible so that when you cut it down as steaks, the florets keep together and do not separate in florets.
***This one is store bought. In Helsinki you can find paprika paste in Hauler Oriental Market in Kaisaniemi or in Alanya Oriental Market in Itäkeskus. I will publish a blogpost later on about how to make paprika paste (along with some other pastes and sauces) at home.
****By packed, I mean lots and lots of parsley!!
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Put a baking paper on an oven tray.
2. Mix olive oil and lemon juice. Put aside.
3. Cut each cauliflower head in two as in the picture and then into steaks. I don’t like making too thick steaks but feel free to cut it as thick as you want (but not too thin, otherwise it might break). Brush both sides of steaks with olive oil mixture.
4. Grill both sides of cauliflowers on a pan until grilling lines appear, just to get a nice grilled, crunchy outer coat. On a heated grilling pan it would only take a few minutes altogether to do that.
5. When steaks are grilled enough, spread, on both sides, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt and pepper generously.
6. Put spiced steaks on oven tray. Spread garlic cloves on the steaks. Roast in the oven for 20 minutes. Then turn the pieces to other side and bake for 5 more minutes, until the surface is nicely browned and the pieces are tender and cooked.
7. While cauliflowers are roasting, prepare the salad (it takes just a few minutes if you’ve already chopped the veggies). First mix paprika paste, dried mint and red pepper flakes. Store bought paprika paste is quite thick, that’s why it is better and easier to mix it first with these spices / herbs separately.
8. In a medium salad bowl, mix tomatoes, spring onions, parsley, green pepper and garlic.
9. Add spiced paprika paste and continue mixing.
10. Add olive oil, lemon juice and pomegranate syrup if you are using, and mix well. Season with salt. Serve with cauliflower steaks. You can also make a nice tartine with this salad on gluten free or regular bread. Enjoy!