Now that my herb garden is no longer bursting with fragrant blossoms, I rely on my spice drawer being well stocked. As the winter months draw near, my spice drawer becomes one of my greatest allies in the kitchen. It’s loaded with spices from nearly every continent on earth. Spices such as cumin, coriander, cardamom, turmeric, curries and smoked paprika get a serous workout, in the cold winter months. Their flavors are satisfying, warm and complex.
This weekend, the weather in the Pacific Northwest was relentless. Heavy rain, wind and cold kept us indoors, near the warmth of the fireplace. Finally burned out on roasted squash and sweet potatoes, I turned to the humble cauliflower.
Not being discouraged by its lack of color (how boring can this vegetable be?!), I decided it would be my canvas for something wonderful.
I chopped the cauliflower into medium sized, manageable pieces and placed them on a large cookie sheet. Now what? I needed to add something flavorful to add interest to this seemingly boring base.
I had some leftover pitted olives from our dinner party the week before. Perfect! These olives happened to be lemon and rosemary brined. I added the olives, whole, with their brine, to the cookie sheet, tossed it all together and drizzled some olive oil and a heavy pinch of salt. It seemed too simple, so I added lemon juice, to compliment the flavors of the brine.
Now, it was time to add a spice. I could add any variety of spices, but really, when in doubt, (or for simplicity’s sake), I often go to smoked paprika. It’s complex on its own, yet it blends well with Mediterranean, Latino and Central European flavors.
Plus the smoky flavor adds extra depth to roasted vegetables. So I added 2 TBS over the top and set it all into the oven to roast.
20 minutes later, I checked on it. The fragrance was amazing. All it needed was a quick stir and a few minutes to finish it off. This is the perfect time to add raw nuts. I love adding nuts to my roasted veggies. They add texture, interest and protein to any vegetarian dish.
So I tossed in some pine nuts, and a more olive oil to keep things from getting too dry. After 3 minutes back in the oven. It was done…..or was it?
I felt like I needed to continue turning this dish into comfort food….my kind of comfort food. I don’t know about you, but for me cheese is the answer. So I added a hefty handful of crumbled feta. I chose feta because it’s salty, crumbly and works perfect with the olives.
All that’s left is a sprinkle of smoked paprika and some chopped parsley. It was delicious. We ate it all, so I’m not sure if it makes good leftovers;)
- 1 head of cauliflower chopped into medium sized chunks
- 1 1/2- 2 cups of pitted olives of your choice (Rosemary lemon brined)
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2 TBS smoked paprika
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1/8 cup of olive oil, or more, if needed
- 2 tsp salt
- 3 TBS chopped parsley to garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash and dry cauliflower. Chop into medium sized chunks. Add to large cookie tray and toss with olives (brine included), olive oil, lemon juice, salt and paprika. Make sure cauliflower is evenly coated. Roast for 15 min, or just long enough for cauliflower to get browned. Remove from oven and toss in pine nuts. Add more olive oil and lemon juice, if cauliflower looks dry. Roast for an additional 3 min, just to brown the pine nuts. Remove from oven, mix in feta cheese and garnish with parsley and a sprinkle of paprika. Serve warm!