Smoky roasted cauliflower is an irresistible dish all on its own, but when you dress it up with a tangy drizzle sauce and strew it with rich pine nuts, sparkling pomegranate seeds, and green herb flecks, you have a rainbow-bright dish that looks (and tastes) spectacular on any holiday table or jazzes up even the most humble main course. (Skip to recipe.)
A platter full of jewels - that's what this roasted cauliflower looks like . . . edible, sparkling jewels. And the flavour matches its looks: tender roasted cauliflower with crispy bits here and there, kissed with smoky nuances and crunchy caraway seeds, drizzled with a tangy, garlicky yogurt sauce and covered in sweet pops of fruity pomegranate seeds, buttery pine nuts, and bright herbs. Its harmony of flavours and textures is sure to bedazzle any holiday table or dress up the simplest roast chicken or fried pork chop.
Even without its jeweled topping, just tossed in seasoned smoky oil and roasted to the peak of intense caramelized flavour, this cauliflower dish is one that will have you smacking your lips and smacking the fingers of family members sneaking just one more piece off the roasting pan. Something magical happens when you roast cauliflower and take it as dark as you dare without burning it - all those sugars caramelize and it becomes mild and sweet and utterly addictive.
Serve the cauliflower roasted plain for any kind of dinner, or serve it with its jeweled cape for a truly memorable special occasion.
How to Make Rainbow Roasted Cauliflower
Choose your cauliflower weapon: rainbow-coloured or plain delicious white. Then trim it and separate it into florets.
Now stir up the flavoured oil in a big bowl. Mix in smoked paprika, salt, pepper, caraway seeds, and sherry vinegar. Add the cauliflower and toss. Then blast it at high heat to roast the pieces to crispy-edged yumminess.
Are you ready to sneak a floret and taste those smoky, crispy edges and tender interior? Whether you've used multi-coloured cauliflower or just the plain white stuff, that pan full looks so appealing and ready to nibble.
Once the cauliflower is roasted to caramelized brown deliciousness, you can serve it just as it is (I can polish off a good portion of it all by myself just like that). It's crispy and smoky and impossible to resist.
Or go the little bit extra and whip up the drizzle sauce, seed a pomegranate, roast some pine nuts, and chop a few sprigs of parsley.
Once you shower all those goodies over your platter of roasted cauliflower, you've transformed it into a dish worthy of your most special occasion.
Now that looks like a piece of colourful food art, absolutely good enough to eat! It's a stunner that's sure to impress next time you entertain, whether it's for a crowd or just for that special someone.
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Kitchen Frau Notes: Substitute chopped, toasted walnuts for the pine nuts if you wish. (Walnuts will take a few minutes longer to toast than pine nuts. Check them for when they develop a toasty aroma and a light golden colour.)
Smoky Roasted Cauliflower with Rainbow Jeweled Toppings
for the roasted cauliflower:
- 8 cups (1½ lbs/700 g) trimmed cauliflower florets (mulit-coloured varieties look great, but all-white is fine, too)
- 4 tablespoons (60ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
for the drizzle sauce and rainbow jeweled toppings (optional):
- ⅓ cup full-fat natural yogurt
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
- ¼ teaspoon grated fresh garlic (or garlic powder)
- ¼ cup pine nuts
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
Cut any large cauliflower florets into halves or quarters so that all florets are roughly similar in size. Set aside.
In a large bowl (large enough to toss the cauliflower in) put the olive oil, caraway seeds, salt, smoked paprika, pepper, and sherry vinegar. Stir them together with a silicone spatula.
Add the cauliflower florets to the bowl, and toss with the spatula until all florets are evenly coated with the seasoned oil.
Dump the cauliflower out onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Use the spatula to scrape any remaining oil over the cauliflower. Spread the cauliflower out in the pan, spacing it out evenly and turning the cut sides of the florets down to make full contact with the pan.
Roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until the cut sides facing down on the pan are a nice brown colour. Start checking at the 20 minute mark - lift up a few florets to see how browned the bottoms are. It will depend on your pan and how spread out they are. In my large heavy sheet pan the cauliflower is browned and crispy at 20 minutes; in my smaller thinner cookie sheet it takes 30 minutes.
*While the cauliflower is roasting, make the drizzle sauce: stir together the yogurt, lemon juice, salt, paprika, and garlic in a small bowl. Set aside. Toast the pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat, stirring constantly, or set put them into a small baking dish and set them into the oven next to, or on a rack under, the roasting cauliflower for 2 to 3 minutes until they are golden (watch them carefully as they burn quickly). Also, remove the seeds from the pomegranate and chop the parsley.
Once the cauliflower is browned on the bottoms of the pieces, remove the pan from the oven and, using tongs, flip all the cauliflower florets over.
Return the pan to the oven and roast for another 10 minutes.
At this point the cauliflower can be served as is, for a seasoned roasted cauliflower dish, or add the rest of the toppings for a special and elegant side dish or spectacular vegetable main dish.
Arrange the cauliflower on a serving dish, drizzle with half of the yogurt sauce (put the rest in a small ramekin to serve with the cauliflower if anyone wishes extra). Sprinkle with the pine nuts and pomegranate seeds, then top with a shower of chopped fresh parsley.
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