Around the time of December exams in my first year of Naturopathic school, I came across this book at the library by Melissa Clark, the acclaimed New York Times food writer. In the midst of the stress surrounding school, this was a book that I escaped to for comfort, getting lost in the stories of her family and conjuring images of simple, home-cooked meals. I remember flipping through the pages planning what I would make when I was finished exams. L caught on quickly and cooked one of the dishes that I’d been eyeing as a surprise for me on my last day of exams. What a treat to come home after a long day (month, really) and walk into a house filled with the aroma of something simmering on the stove. It’s one of the best things in life, I’d say.
During that time, I did manage to cook for myself on occasion, and there was a really simple roasted cauliflower dish that I turned to time and again from the book. This Roasted Cauliflower with Pom Seeds, Lentils, and Salted Yogurt is inspired by that very Melissa Clark dish.
With cauliflower overflowing at the markets and pomegranates just starting to poke their little crimson heads onto supermarket shelves, this dish celebrates the move into cooler weather. Lentils and Greek yogurt beef this dish up and the cilantro, lemon, and olive oil brighten it. The salted yogurt, in my opinion, really steals the show though. In combination with the fruit and herbs, this dish is pretty special. Special, but certainly not complicated. Creating this dish is simply a matter of preparing a few components and assembling them together on a plate. It’s perfect for a weeknight meal and beautiful enough to share with friends at a dinner party. Enjoy.
- ROASTED CAULIFLOWER
- 1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florrettes
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, divided in half
- 1 tbsp cumin seeds, divided in half
- Generous sprinkling of kosher salt
- ½ cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 2 cups vegetable stock
- 1 pomegranate
- 1 cup of greek yogurt, preferably 2%
- 2 tbsp good quality olive oil, or to taste *You may want more, depending on taste
- Generous sprinkling of sea salt
- A bunch of cilantro (Parsley & Mint, or a combination of all three would also be good here)
- Half a lemon, cut into fours
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spread the grape seed oil over two cookie sheets. Spread the cauliflower out evenly and sprinkle each sheet with half a tbsp of cumin seeds and a generous sprinkling of kosher salt. Place the roasting pans in the oven on two centre racks. Depending on the size of your florets, the cauliflower will take anywhere from 20-40 minutes to cook. Be sure to rotate the pans and give them a shake every 10 minutes to prevent burning.
- Meanwhile, place the lentils and vegetable stock in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Boil for about 2 minutes then turn the heat down and simmer for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked al dente. You don’t want to overcook them or they will become soft and mushy. Strain and set aside to come to room temperature.
- While everything cooks, seed your pomegranate. This is my preferred method.
- Lastly, mix together the yogurt, olive oil, and sea salt until well combined. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. You want the yogurt to be salted. This is the best part!!
- Toss the cauliflower and lentils together in a large bowl with a handful or two each of cilantro leaves and pomegranate seeds.
- To serve, divide the dish into 4 portions. Squeeze some lemon juice over each portion, add an additional sprinkling of salt, if necessary. Top with the remaining cilantro, pom seeds, and a BIG dollop of yogurt.