Spiced roasted cauliflower

I have a large head of cauliflower in front of me.

In another life I would have turned it into cauliflower cheese, molten with dairy and oozing with stodge. I may have even crumbled bacon and breadcrumbs over the top to burnish while it baked. I’d have eaten it with some roast chicken and a very large glass of white wine.

Except we’re still on this slow carb kick. Not so much with the cheese, or the breadcrumbs. There’s a brideslave dress I need to don in three weeks time. The Hungry One has to fit into his good suit. So it’s lots of  herbs, spices, nuts, seeds, fish and vegetables for us.

Hence the cauliflower.

“I’m thinking that I’ll grate some lemon and the garlic over the top. Maybe roast it and toss it with some parsley and almonds. What do you think?”

The Hungry One pops his head up. Then says; “well, that sounds like a Tori kind of dish”.

Note. This is not said with a thumbs up  salutation for ‘good for you, you’re on brand’. Or even an excited, ‘oh gracious me, that sounds grand’.

He’s now joined me next to the stove and is surveying my comfort objects; the party bag of garlic, lemons and nuts that I keep with me in a kitchen. The ingredients that bring the  zesty crunch I like so much. He’s nonplussed.

“It’s just you do those sorts of things lots.”

He’s right. I do. There was the chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. The lemon and almond crumble on top of ham and lentil soup. The sea bass with lemon, nuts and burnt butter.

And like I apologised to him, I should apologise to you.

Just like all I felt like wearing throughout Autumn were striped tops, jeans, black boots and a grey scarf so large that ten year old twins could have found shelter beneath it, these are the flavours I’ve recently felt like playing with.

So this is my attempt to skip sideways a bit.

It’s a basic concept- taking a cauliflower and breaking it down, then roasting it until its nutty flavours deepen, olive oil catches on the crevices and it gets crunchy.

The only essential elements are the cauliflower, oil and salt. Whatever nuts, herbs and spices you add is up to you.

I toyed with inviting in some cumin and coriander, perhaps with some cocoa. That would take it down a Mexican mole route.

I thought about smoked paprika and extra cayenne, for a firey twist on the Mediterranean. But instead, I went for deeply coloured and aromatic. It’s gone south, but I’m not quite sure where.

I added a teaspoon of cinnamon. A teaspoon of turmeric. Both which left my hands looking like I’d been rock painting. Then some sliced chilli.

I snuck in the garlic and the almonds, just because, like blue jeans, there’s not a lot they don’t go nicely with. Once it’s been roasted it’s pleasant if tossed with some herbs. I went with coriander and mint.

I think it would be lovely with some lamb and natural yogurt spiked with garlic or lemon juice.

That night I  served it with a green salad, pan fried sea bass and some of the Ginger Carrot relish I made in honour of Prince Harry for the Royal Wedding (I have a sneaking suspicion that if we met Harry, we’d get on well).

Later on, after The Hungry One had a bite he turned to me and smiled. “Well, it’s different. But it’s still on brand. You know why? It’s pretty good”.

Sometimes my husband says the nicest things.

Spiced cauliflower, with sea bass and relish

Serves two


400 gram head of cauliflower
1 large handful coriander/cilantro
1 large handful of mint
3 garlic cloves, sliced or grated
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of turmeric
1 chilli, diced
1 tablespoon of sea salt flakes
2  tablespoons of olive oil

To go with it

2 fillets of sea bass (or other firm flesh white fish with the skin on)
1 tablespoon of olive oil and sea salt for the fish
2 tablespoons of Ginger Carrot Relish (see here)
1 lemon
Mixed leaf salad

Here’s how we roll

1.    Tear the protective leaves off the bottom of the cauliflower. Break the florets into pieces the size of a garlic clove. Put the long stems to one side. Don’t let them go to waste, there’s good flavour there.  Dice them into thin coins and add them in with the cauliflower.

2.    Add the cauliflower to a baking tray. Add the spices, garlic and the sea salt and shake around to make sure there’s a good mix of spices and seasoning on all of the surfaces. Drizzle with olive oil.

3.    Place in a 200 C 400 F oven for 40 minutes, until the edges are crisp.

4.    Pull out and sprinkle with toasted almonds. Return to the oven for five minutes.

5.    Top with the chopped mint and coriander.

6.    Serve with sea bass fillets that you’ve dried carefully and pan fried in a hot pan (check that the pan is hot enough by placing half a lemon face down on the pan. If it sizzles, it’s hot enough for the fish). Add a tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and a good pinch of sea salt. Cook the fish skin side down for two minutes, until the skin is crispy and the flesh has gone opaque half way up the width of the fillet. Flip the fillet and cook for 40 seconds on the other side.

7.    Add the fish fillets, the caramelised lemon and cauliflower to a plate. Eat with a dollop of Carrot Ginger relish and green salad. Or just a drizzle of natural yogurt.

  1. I will most likely be investing in a whole head of cauliflower this week. Your post is well timed-

  2. Great post- the spices and cauliflower sounds delicious. I especially like the flavor of caramelised lemon. The husband often teases me because I find flavors I like and stick with them. It's good to have a partner who gets you to shake things up a bit occasionally.

  3. This looks amazing, Tori! Cauliflower is on the shopping list. Thanks for another brilliant idea.

  4. I never liked cauliflowers but this recipe might just change my mind!!

  5. The whole meal sounds delicious! I love roasted garlic with bit of curry powder – different, but tasty! And during the fall, we do a faux mashed potato with pureed cauliflower that's simple and easy – definitely has certain people fooled =)

  6. hehe it's saying those nice things that make us want to marry them isn't it! 😛

  7. Absolutely divine. I love the combination of cauliflower and spice and it's so much more refreshing that a great heavy cauliflower cheese. I sometimes sautee it with a little harissa, garlic and cumin but your recipe looks more involved and interesting. Going to give it a try as soon as I'm back from holiday 🙂

  8. Hilarious! My boyfriend says things like that when I do anything involving corn.

  9. This sounds and looks very healthy. I too have some cauliflower in my fridge and have been trying to work out what to do with it. My heart says do the molten cheese thing, my head like yours is telling me this is a much better option!

  10. Tori, this recipe sounds delicious! I almost never buy cauliflower for some weird reason (even though I love it)… thanks for reminding about a great but forgotten vegetable 🙂 Lovely blog, I look forward to visiting often!!

  11. Ha! Love how you resisted turning it into a cheesey concoction. I unfortunately, don’t have the same resistance! LOL

  12. Ooo..I love it when new things can be done with a cauliflower and this recipe looks smashing. Only a few days ago, did I do crispy fried cauliflower but I tell you, this feels so much more healthy.

    Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  13. Love roasted cauli, it is the only way to serve it!

  14. All hail the mighty cauliflower! Love it.

  15. Oh, how wonderful. I haven't roasted cauliflower in about a year, I reckon, and I'd love to try it spiced like this!

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