Thursday, 11 July 2013

Roasted cauliflower Pilaf

Cauliflower has been losing popularity in Britain for the last couple of decades, it's a mystery as to why, one possibility is the prevalence of cauliflower, boiled until it's waterlooged then served up with an insipid cheese sauce. Cauliflower in a cheese sauce can be delicious of course but far too often, it isn't. All brassica vegetables, produce unwelcome flavours when over boiled, however this recipe produces perfectly tender delicious cauliflower florets which marry up beautifully with the wild rice and golden raisins in this pilaf.

For this recipe you will need:
1 large cauliflower cut up into small florets
3 small onions
250g of wild rice
150g of golden raisins soaked in 100ml of hot water
1 tablespoon of oil, the choice is yours
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper

Begin by placing the oil, cumin seeds and seasoning on a large baking tray, mix together a little then add the cauliflower. Peel the onions and keep as much of the root ends in tact as you can, when you then cut then into 6 segments each, the layers should stay together reasonably well. Add to the caulifower and toss together to get each piece at least introduced to the seasoned oil. Place in a hot oven 220C for 10 to 15 minutes, take the tray out, you'll find the tips are beginning to char; using a couple of tablespoons, move the contents around in order to expose more of the uncharred cauliflower and onions. Place the tray back in the oven and repeat this process until you find the cauliflower is tender and most of the florets are showing signs of a little charring. This takes between 35 and 45 minutes depending on how efficient your oven is. I have forgotten them before now and the extra charring was wonderful, but until you are familiar with the process, perhaps it's just as well to keep the charring to a minimum.
Boil the wild rice in vegetable stock until cooked. Each grain of rice should split open and have all the lovely colours of darjeeling tea leaves. Add the cooked rice to the cauliflower and toss in the raisins. Personally I find the dish moist enough without adding a dressing of any kind. I have served it hot with spiced salmon in a coconut, ginger and chilli sauce, I think it would be equally good served as part of a cold buffet with other salads.

 Brassicas have long struggled with abuse in the kitchen,  over boiling being the main crime against them, however, roasting in a little oil in a hot oven transforms them into the most delicious of vegetables, I would encourage all to experiment and risk getting the edges charred


  1. Nice to have you back and pleased that you are recovering well.
    I love cauliflower but have never got round to roasting it - will definitely give this a try.

  2. Hello Ann and thank you for your comment, who would have thought that simple roasting would not only bring out such good flavour but also make the cauliflower perfectly tender. It's entirely possible to roast it using a little oil, salt and pepper if you intend using it where spices would be less appropriate, just keep tossing it about and returning it to a hot oven until the florets are all tender and the edges nicely charred, best wishes, Tôbi