I love to stroll in farmers’ markets, eyeing the whimsical varieties of vegetables. Some have prehistoric, bulbous, knobby shapes, some are curly and twisty, while others look as if they’ve been dipped in dyes such as the colored cauliflower heads.
After asking a few questions I was comforted to learn that the orange colour was not artificial. It rather was the result of a genetic accident that happened in Canada in 1970, when one dwarf, orange-colored cauliflower was discovered in a field of white florets. After laboratory testing, scientists recognized that the colour was due to a high carotene content. The variety that we see today and which has been on market shelves since 2003, is the result of decades of cross-breeding. It is the same size and has the same texture as its white cousin, tastes a little sweeter and contains 25% more vitamin A.
Cauliflower is an ” excellent blank canvas”, as Amanda Hesser once said, it adapts to and soaks up tastes and flavours. The orange colored cousin is pretty much the same though a touch sweeter. I braised it in the oven, slowly, with just enough vegetable stock to make it tender. This dish brings together Mediterranean flavors, and North American ingredients such as the cranberries and the cider vinegar which came from local Massachusetts farms.
With a beautiful color palette, the roasted cauliflower slices can be served warm or at room temperature. Eaten either as a starter or as part of a selection of mezze dishes while they also pair well with fish, chicken, or lamb.
- 1 head orange cauliflower (or any colour)
- 2 tablespoons cranberries
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons capers
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- 2 tablespoons shelled pistachios
- 3 garlic cloves
- 250 ml / 1 Cup vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon mustard
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- Sea salt
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat leaf parsley
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C /350°F.
- Soak the cranberries in hot water for 30 minutes.
- Wash and trim the outer leaves of the cauliflower. Cut away the stem end.
- Hold the cauliflower with its base on a cutting board. Use a sharp knife and cut 1 inch / 2cm thick slices. Save the smaller florets to roast them with the rest of the cauliflower.
- Arrange the cauliflower slices and smaller bits on an oven tray.
- Slice the garlic cloves and sprinkle them over the cauliflower.
- Sprinkle with coriander, cumin and salt.
- Pour the stock over the florets and place the tray on the middle rack of the oven.
- Bake for 35/40 minutes; the cauliflower should be tender and a golden colour.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a pan and toast the pistachios for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Lift with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper, sprinkle with a pinch of salt and set aside.
- Transfer the cooked cauliflower to a serving dish.
- If you have a small jar, use it to make the dressing; if not, mix the ingredients in a bowl. add mustard, black pepper, sea salt, capers, vinegar, and maple syrup. Close the jar and shake it or simple whisk the ingredients in the bowl.
- Spoon the dressing over the cauliflower.
- Strain the cranberries and scatter them together with the pistachios over the dish.
- Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.