And what a revelation this is….Hot, crispy salt slicked cauliflower florettes, roasted with paprika and lemon with a slow hit of chile. After decades of boiled cauliflower and macerated (abeit delish) cauliflower cheese, this method of preparing it feels super modern and it is THE most moreish thing to eat. Perfect finger food and kids wolf it down too. The roasting, and the flavours used override all of that expected school lunch hall brassica smell. Try it and see and don’t worry if you lack chile or paprika- it is just as delicious without them. While we are on the subject of lemon, I’ve yet to meet a vegetable that didn’t benefit from an added squeeze of its juice, brightening up the tiredest and rawkiest of vegetables. Try adding a teaspoon to mashed or roasted potatoes, to a bowl of green peas or plate of broad beans, slipped from their pods. Tuck razor thin slices of lemon among fennel roots before roasting, drizzle all over with olive oil then squish the lemon slices down into the roasting juices to make a lovely sauce.
- 1 head of cauliflower, outer green leaves removed, broken into bite-sized florets
- 2 cloves of finely minced garlic
- 1 small de-seeded and finely minced red chili
- 1 tsp sweet Spanish Paprika
- 1 tbsp capers
- juice of 1 and a half lemons
- olive oil
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 425F, 220c or gas mark 7. Blanch the cauliflower in salted boiling water for about 2-3 minutes then take off the hob, drain off the cooking water and pour cold running water over the florets to stop them from cooking further before draining again. When it’s completely dry, add to a roasting pan. Season with salt.
With a pestle and mortar, smoosh the chili, garlic and a little salt into a rough paste. Add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil & the paprika then mix and cover the cauliflower with it, working the paste into any crevices. Pour over the juice of 1 lemon, and save the rest of the juice.
Roast uncovered for 25-30 minutes, mixing once or twice to ensure it browns evenly. It doesn’t matter if it ‘catches’ a little around the edges. In fact this is what we want. Those are the best bits!
Remove from oven and sprinkle immediately with the rest of the lemon juice, the capers and more sea salt if you are a salt hound like us. Grind some pepper over it too.
This is even better served with grated Parmiggiano Cheese scattered over it but it does need to be eaten hot with salty, olive oil slicked fingers. Think of it as super posh Popcorn.