Lately I’ve been craving mediterranean and middle eastern food– bring me hummus! One of my favorite restaurants for this type of food is T Gourmet (formerly Wild Thyme) in Tsim Sha Tsui, but I recently tried Maison Libanaise in Central for a girls dinner out and loved it too.
Chipotle Harissa Cauliflower
This Chipotle Harissa Cauliflower is inspired by a dish at Maison Libanaise. Normally I would never order a whole head of cauliflower for dinner at restaurant, no matter how beautifully spiced it claimed to be. However the harissa cauliflower dish not only exceeded my expectations, it was so good I was talking about it to Peter for weeks after the dinner. My eyes have been opened to the wonders of this underrated vegetable and there’s no going back– especially when said vegetable has been rubbed and baked in a spicy smoky chili paste.
Harissa is a North African chili paste made with spices and dried chilis. I made mine with a chipotle peppers for extra smokiness and rubbed it generally over a nicely trimmed cauliflower. Peter balked when he saw the cauliflower getting ready to go in the oven, (usually he only eats cauliflower if it’s smothered in cheese) but even he had seconds of this dish.
You can chop the cauliflower into florets, which cuts the cook time in half, but there’s something so elegant about roasting and serving the whole cauliflower in tact. I like mine drizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with lots of salt, and served with a spoonful of plain yogurt for when I need to tone down the spice.
I used 2 chipotle chili peppers in my harissa, which was really spicy for my more spice-sensitive pregnant palate, but Peter didn’t think it was that spicy at all so play around with the number of chili peppers you use depending on your spice tolerance.
Chipotle Harissa Cauliflower makes a great side dish, or a main dish when served with a filling rice pilaf. We had ours with my new favorite grain mix, spiced yogurt chicken (pan cooked instead of oven baked and it actually turned out to be even better than the baked recipe!), and a haloumi recipe that I’ll be sharing on the blog next week.
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- olive oil
- Chipotle Harissa
- 10 small dried red chili peppers
- 2–4 chipotle peppers, canned in adobo sauce
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground caraway seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Preheat oven to 200 C/400 F
- Clean and trim cauliflower, removing all the leaves and trimming the core so that the cauliflower can sit flat
- Place in a large baking dish or pan
- Rub with olive oil and sprinkle with salt
- In a food processor, grind chipotle harissa ingredients together to form a well combined paste
- Spread chipotle harissa generously over the tops and sides of cauliflower until it is covered
- Roast in oven for 45-60 min (depending on the size of your cauliflower) until cauliflower is soft all the way through
- Test softness of cauliflower by poking a wooden skewer through the florets and base
- Serve whole, hot with a drizzle of lemon juice
- Salt to taste
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