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Saturday, September 06, 2008

spicy roasted cauliflower with red peppers and cumin


On Saturdays in the summer and fall, I sell my whole-grain Rise & Shine Bakery sourdough bread from 9am-2pm at the South Anchorage Farmers’ Market. I can’t really eat while I’m giving out samples and selling bread. I’ve tried, let me tell you. This is what happens: I wait until there are no customers in line, and then look carefully around the entire market for a familiar bread-buyer. Recognizing no one, I take a big bite and start to chew. Immediately, three or four of my best customers materialize in front of my stand, full of questions about the bread, and wanting to talk. Then I wave my hands around and mumble idiotically while trying to swallow and talk around my monstrous mouthful.  It’s just easier to wait on lunch until I get home. 

So by the time I get home around 3pm, I’m pretty ravenous. Usually I try and fix something the night before, after the bake is over, but last night I didn’t get around to it. So when I got home today, I had to scramble a bit. Luckily I had just bought a couple of HUGE cauliflowers at the market (one weighed in at almost four pounds), and I had three red peppers in the ‘fridge. This recipe doesn’t take long—if you aren’t too spaced out and starving, you can do most of the veggie prep and make the sauce while the oven heats to its 450 degrees! And I promise, it’s worth the wait—even if you’re really hungry!

spicy roasted cauliflower with red peppers and cumin

This fabulous recipe is based on one in Peter Berley’s first cookbook: The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen. Although it has Indian spices in it, it’s so delicious that I find excuses to make it as an appetizer no matter what kind of dinner I’m serving. Or, like today, I just make a couple of huge trays of it and eat it for lunch. You’ll be amazed how much cauliflower you can plow through, with this recipe!

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon whole cumin seeds
½ teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1 large or 2 medium cauliflower heads (about 2 pounds), cored and separated into florets
2 or 3 large red or yellow bell peppers, halved, seeded, and sliced into ½” strips

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice, oil, salt, ground cumin, coriander, cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine.
3. Add the cauliflower and bell peppers and toss well.
4. Coat 2 baking sheets with non-stick spray or oil. (This makes clean-up a lot easier.) Spread the vegetables out on them in a single layer. Don’t overload the baking sheets—do this in two separate batches if you want to make a double batch, since the veggies will steam instead of roast if you crowd them on the sheets.
5. Roast the vegetables for 15-20 minutes or more, until they are starting to get dark brown in spots and they are nice and tender when poked with a paring knife. Stir after 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
6. Transfer the veggies to a serving dish. They are great hot or at room temperature, and make great leftovers.

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