So cauliflower…It’s been in the news (or at least my Twitter feed) a lot lately. It’s gotten a lot of attention not for it’s health benefits, or how versatile and delicious it is, but how EXPENSIVE it’s been. Both in Canada, where many grocery costs have been rising, and in the US too. Not long before Christmas I refused to buy it at around $5 a head. However, it seems like the high cost cauliflower crisis is over now, as I recently bought a couple of heads for under $1.50 each. And thank goodness too…we were starting to go through cauliflower withdrawal around here. We eat a lot of it, both raw and cooked, not in pizza crusts or “fried rice“. My favorite way to eat it, is by far, this Roasted Cauliflower with Middle Eastern Spices.
I got the idea for this dish after dining at a popular Lebanese restaurant in Vancouver – Nuba. Dining with my cousin who had been there many times, she insisted that we try the restaurant’s signature dish – Najib’s Special: “Crispy cauliflower tossed with lemon and sea salt, served with tahini”. Really? Their signature dish is cauliflower?? Okay…
But it’s a good thing we got two orders, because it all disappeared. Really quickly. It really was THAT GOOD. I knew I really wanted to try to recreate it at home, since a dish in a restaurant in Vancouver is not exactly readily accessible to me. But I suspected that because the menu said “crispy cauliflower” that it was deep fried. And while I will eat deep fried foods on occasion, I don’t like to attempt it at home too often (so messy!). So I turned to roasting, with the addition of a generous amount of olive oil.
I didn’t get the same super crispy results that I experienced at Nuba, but the olive oil and high oven temperature did help to get the edges of the cauliflower nice and crunchy. And seasoning the cauliflower with cumin, cinnamon and cayenne with a toss of lemon juice after cooking gave the dish the Lebanese flavors I remembered from the restaurant. I have made this countless times since dining at Nuba over three years ago, and my husband and I are always surprised by how quickly the two of us can polish off an entire head of cauliflower. So if you’re making this dish for a group, you might want to double the recipe!
- 1 head of cauliflower core and large stems removed, cut into bite sized florets (using bagged, pre-cut cauliflower will give you soggy results)
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Heat oven to 400°F.
Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil in a large bowl. Sprinkle salt, cumin, cinnamon and cayenne over cauliflower and toss to distribute spices evenly. Spread cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake, stirring every 10 minutes until cauliflower is well browned, about 30 minutes total.
Sprinkle lemon juice over cooked cauliflower, toss gently and serve.
Roasted Cauliflower with Middle Eastern Spices Nutrition Info
Most of the calories in this dish come from the generous amount of olive oil in the recipe. The olive oil is necessary to help crisp up the cauliflower, so don’t try to cut back. Keep in mind that you’re getting lots of healthy unsaturated fats from this dish.