Cauliflower is by far one of my favorite vegetables to eat. I love the way it transforms from somewhat plain and blank to juicing and full of roasted flavor. It pairs with rosemary, cheese, or even nuts; it beckons feelings of fall.
Then again, maybe this recipe is giving me tunnel vision-- roasted brussels sprouts, delicata squash, and onions all make my mouth water. But once you eat this roasted cauliflower, it's just too easy to forget the rest in the dust and imagine you're in the middle east eating a homemade dinner.
It starts with cauliflower, but next comes Harissa, and you can't forget that: harissa gives this recipe an exotic spin that piques your curiosity and makes it special, you know, in that restaurant-menu-status but I-actually-made-it-at home sort of special.
And it doesn't stop there. Harissa is followed by toasted pine nuts (which, really, make any recipe shine) and diced dates. The spice of the harissa is mellowed out by the sweet fruit and rich nuts, and as they enter your serving bowl, the salad goes from "definitely a side dish" to "maybe I can just eat this for lunch" instantly.
If I'm being totally honest, what happens next is purely optional: parsley, rosemary and lemon zest, which add a freshness but don't make or break the recipe. Don't skip them. You'll be glad they're in there, little fresh pops of color and flavor. (But if you're scrounging around for ingredients in your kitchen, and you just can't find that parsley you could've sworn you picked up the day before, it's ok. Make the recipe anyways).
A little forkful from the middle east, or maybe just what my daydreams have been telling me is in the middle east. :)
Serves: 4 | Total Time:
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons Harissa paste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup dates, pitted
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- Small handful parsley, flat leaf
- Zest 1/2 lemon
- 1 tablespoon rosemary
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Chop the cauliflower in florets. In a medium bowl, whisk Harissa paste with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt & pepper. Place florets in bowl, and toss in Harissa mixture. Spread out on sheet pan, and bake for 20 minutes, until crisp on edges and tender. Set aside.
- Toast pine nuts while the cauliflower cooks, by heating them in a skillet over low heat, and stirring occasionally. Once fragrant, remove from heat. Prepare the rest of the topping: chop the dates, and place in small bowl. Mince the parsley adding that to the bowl as well. Zest the lemon into the mixture. Add rosemary and pine nuts, and toss to combine.
- Scoop cauliflower into serving dish. Spoon nut and date mixture over top. Serve warm.