photo credit - Jennifer Schmidt
My favorite way to prepare vegetables is to roast them. Cauliflower is so versatile and satisfying, and such a fun vegetable to experiment with new spices and flavors. The spice mix in this recipe is a blend that I originally made for using in lentil soup, and discovered that I like this more than I like using curry powder. Curry has a pungent tang, and this blend, while more mellow, is pleasingly aromatic and a bit more versatile.
I love studying the health benefits of herbs and spices, and the spice mix that we’re using in this recipe packs a healthy punch. Here are some of the ways you’ll benefit from adding these spices to your dishes:
- Turmeric is considered to be one of the world’s most effective anti-inflammatory herbs. It’s a favorite with people with joint pain and all types of inflammation. It’s powerfully antioxidant, and anti-aging; people in Asian countries use some of this golden spice in facial treatments and swear by the results. Turmeric also supports healthy liver function, and aids the body in breaking down dietary fats.
- Fennel seeds come with their own arsenal of health benefits. It helps relieve bloating after meals, as it soothes the digestive system. Fennel seeds were used as a diet aid in ancient Greece, where they were also eaten to benefit the eyes and brain. Nursing mothers take fennel seeds in tea to encourage milk production.
- Cumin and coriander both support digestion, and help relieve feelings of fullness. Cumin was a beloved remedy in ancient times in the Middle East for healing wounds. Apparently it kills bacteria, and for that reason it was also used during colds and respiratory illness.
- Cardamom is a precious spice that is both refreshing and awakening. It’s related to both ginger and turmeric, and provides similar benefits to digestion. People have also used cardamom to soothe the gallbladder.
- Asafoetida is perhaps one of the more unusual spices you’ll run into. In India, it’s called “hing”, which is definitely easier to pronounce. Asafoetida is actually a resin that’s collected from the root of an aromatic plant, and ground up with fenugreek seeds in order to make it into a smooth powder. This unique spice smells and tastes like a blend of garlic, onions, and celery. Although it sounds intense, it adds a pleasant pungency to dishes like this. In India, this particular herb is valued as an important medicinal, where it is used for a wide range of issues including ridding the body of parasites, purification, killing bacteria and healing digestive issues.
As Hippocrates once said, let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.
Let’s take this conversation into the kitchen.
Pre-blend your spice mix so it’s ready to use for this and other recipes.
- 3 teaspoons turmeric powder
- 3 teaspoons ground fennel
- 3 teaspoons ground coriander
- 3 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon cardamom powder
- 1 teaspoon asafoetida powder
You will need
- A large head of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt (or more, to taste)
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper (to taste)
- 1 heaping teaspoon (or more) of the spice mix
- 1 tablespoon vegetable broth
- a lemon, cut in half
- 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
Preheat oven to 400.
Break a large head of cauliflower into florets and spread in a large pyrex baking dish.
Drizzle the olive oil over the florets and toss to coat. You can use more oil if you like.
Sprinkle the spice mix, salt and pepper over the cauliflower. Next, sprinkle on the vegetable broth and a squeeze of lemon juice over the cauliflower, then toss again to make sure the florets are coated with the seasonings on all sides. Taste to make sure there is enough salt and seasoning, and adjust as needed.
Bake for 7 to 10 minutes, and check up on the progress. Stir to make sure the veggies are baking evenly.
Allow it to bake another 7 to ten minutes, until the florets are beautifully golden and tender.
Transfer to a serving dish, and toss with the chopped cilantro.
Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!