If you were to come to Vancouver, I’d take you to one of my favorite places. It’s a little restaurant called Nuba. We’d order their spiritual tonic, a fresh beet juice Bloody Mary that is as restorative as it is a kick in the pants. And no matter what you were looking at on their menu, I’d steer you towards the Najib’s Special – a Lebanese plate filled with all sorts of wonderful things, but the star attraction is the crispy, salty, lemony cauliflower. Granted, the cauliflower is deep fried, so I know I can’t re-make (nor would I want to) that kind of magic at home. However, I’m fine with that because there’s 3 locations within brisk walking distance from my house. It’s good to be neighbours with great cauliflower.
I’m surprised when people say they aren’t cauliflower fans. I don’t get it. I think the big white fluffy looking vegetable is as beautiful as just about anything to come from the ground. And it’s versatile: soup, curry, braised and roasted. What’s not to love? But if you are on the cauliflower fence, give it a try this way: roasted, crispy, salty, lemony, earthy and tangy. The sumac and lemon work together to brighten the the tartness while the cumin adds an earthy simmer. Plus, it’s dead simple to prepare.
I may not have created a copy-cat recipe, but it’s got all the elements I love – lemon, garlic, saltiness and tang. I consider this a wild success and something I’d be happy to chow down on this any night of the week.
lemon, cumin & sumac roasted cauliflower
I large head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1/3 c olive oil
1 large lemon, zested & juiced
1 T ground cumin
1 T ground sumac
1 t garlic powder
1 large pinch kosher salt
good grind fresh black pepper
additional lemon, quartered (optional)
Preheat oven to 425F.
In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, olive oil, lemon juice and zest, cumin, sumac and garlic powder. Toss with your hands or a wooden spoon so that everything gets evenly combined. Dump onto a cookie sheet prepped with a silpat mat or parchment paper and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping cauliflower over at the 15 minute mark. When everything is golden brown and crispy, remove from oven. Serve with additional lemon quarters for that added lemony bite.