Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Crackling Cauliflower

I'm big into tradition. Something about the tried and true really speaks to me, makes me feel warm, makes me feel secure. And so my Thanksgiving table will look like a lot of Thanksgiving tables around the country, with turkey, gravy, stuffing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, mashed expect it, we'll have it.

But, at the same time, I like to spice things up a little bit every now and then. And this year, I'm going to spice them up with cauliflower.

Cauliflower? I can hear you snicker from here. Oh, ye of little faith. Pull up a chair, and let me tell you a little bit about how cauliflower--this cauliflower--can totally ROCK your Thanksgiving table.

A quick note on this recipe: A friend sent it to me--well, actually, to a mailing list I've been part of for almost a decade--earlier this year, and it immediately became my go-to potluck (and now Thanksgiving) recipe, with a few modifications, which I'll note below. My friend, in turn, got it from The Whole Foods Market Cookbook. So it's a little bit of a 'telephone' recipe, having undergone more than one pass-along to get to you. I don't think it's any the worse for wear, though!

Crackling Cauliflower

2 heads of cauliflower, cut into florets [The original recipe had 1 large head or about 6 cups, but I didn't think that made enough for my purposes, so I more-or-less doubled the cauliflower, and then upped the amounts of the rest of the recipe. I'm giving you those upped amounts below.]

1-1/2 cup diced red onions [I've used both white and yellow onions as well, and they've been fine.]

1/2 cup canola oil

1 Tablespoon curry powder

1 Tablespoon garam masala

1 Tablespoon fennel seeds [The first time I made this, I only had anise seed, and it turned out fine. There is a difference, but it's not enough to make a big impact on this recipe.]

1/4 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes [I didn't up this amount, because I'm not a big fan of this kind of heat; you may want to double it.]

1 Tablespoon salt [This is actually a somewhat salty recipe; you may want to start with less, and add more later if you feel it needs it. This actually goes for all the spices here; it's a pretty spicy recipe, and you may personally want to tone it down a bit.]

4 large garlic cloves, minced

2 Tablespoons grated fresh ginger

1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest [My friend says she never bothers with this, but since I have lemons growing in my backyard, I usually include it. I definitely don't think this is a do-or-die ingredient.]

2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Put everything except peas and cilantro in a large bowl and toss until the cauliflower with the rest of the ingredients.

Pour into a large baking pan and roast for 30-45 minutes, until the cauliflower is crisp-tender and golden-brown, turning the cauliflower every 10 minutes or so, so that it will cook evenly. (The original recipe says to cook for only 25-30 minutes, but I don't think that's enough, especially when you double the recipe. I also don't find that it browns quite so much, though it does pick up a yellow hue from the spices. Your mileage may vary.)

When done, place the cauliflower in a large serving bowl. Mix in the peas and cilantro, and serve. Watch everyone's socks get knocked off.

So, that should pretty much do it for our first Thanksgiving here at (Never) Too Many Cooks. (Well, almost. Check in tomorrow for the great leftovers recipe Niksmom's been taunting me with, but refusing to give me in advance. Brat.) Please let us know what you try, what you like, what you think. Actually, let us know about anything you put on your table that shakes things up, even if it didn't come from here.

We're all ears. (And tongues and lips and jaws and teeth and bulging bellies...)


  1. Oh thee from the East, now the West. I do think it would be okay to use parsley instead of THAT cilantro stuff. It is just not a staple here in the East.
    A lot of us think it tastes like soap. (G)

  2. I sense a theme this week: Entice Niksmom into trying foods she doesn't like by making recipes which sound really interesting! First Goodfountain and her sweet potato souffle and now you with you *shudder* cauliflower? This actually sounds like something my immediate family would adore. My extended family, like AB it seems, wouldn't appreciate the fine touches of things like fresh cilantro— which does NOT taste like soap! Ahem.

    I'd opt to sub fresh mint if cilantro to one's liking. Goes well with the garam masala & curry. YUM.

  3. Cauliflower prevent colon cancer and contributes significant amounts of iron. It also contains vitamins E and C. I like to eat it at least twice per week and i love the taste. I like cauliflower in salad or another kind of recipes.

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  4. This is my favorite dish on the bar at whole foods. Thanks for sharing the recipe!