10:02 AM EST
My father, a retired WHO agronomist, spends his free time breeding heirloom cultivars of his favorite fruits and vegetables on a small plot of land outside of Geneva, Switzerland. His pride and joy, B. oleracea L var. sandwichis, is a beautiful white cauliflower saved from the brink of extinction and said to have been particularly enjoyed by Louis XIV. Also, it cures cancer.
Cauliflower is a member of the Brassicaceae family which also includes mustards, broccoli, cabbages, turnips and radishes. By now most of us are familiar with the maxim that the more colorful the fruit or vegetable, the more nutritious it is. But think of cauliflower as the “mighty ivory” as it is rich in dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C and beneficial phytochemicals.
If you only eat cauliflower as crudité drenched in pedestrian vegetable dips, shame on you. Don’t worry, though, your secret is safe with me. Roasted cauliflower has a sweet, luxurious hazelnut flavor that you really must taste to believe. The cumin in this recipe mellows in the oven and balances this humble dish with a spicy earthiness.
• 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
• Olive oil
• Black pepper
• Cumin seeds (whole)
• Coarse salt
Are you freaking out because I didn’t give you exact amounts? Don’t – learn to trust your intuition! Besides, not every cauliflower is the same size and your taste may be different (but certainly not better) than mine.
Preheat your oven to 450°. Place the florets in a bowl and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Mix the cauliflower around until evenly coated with oil. You want the cauliflower to be just slightly glossy but not saturated with oil. Remember – you can always add more oil but you can’t take it out once combined with the cauliflower.
Next, season the cauliflower with a few turns of the peppermill and 1-2 teaspoons of cumin seeds and mix. If the pepper and cumin aren’t sticking to the cauliflower add just a touch more olive oil.
Once the oven is preheated place the cauliflower on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden in spots. Remove from oven and immediately season with salt. Serve hot or warm.