Thursday, April 9, 2015

Roasted curried cauliflower with farro and white beans

Some things about which I have lately been wondering:
         - why didn't I listen to my father and learn to drive a stick shift car when I was a teenager?
         - how did this wax get in my hair?
         - where is my other fuzzy slipper bootie?
         - how good is this cauliflower thing, really?

I didn't have a car out here this winter, so until recently if I wanted to go up to the mountains I had to find a ride. I have been lucky enough to find a ski buddy who not only drives but is just a bit better than I am- overall, it's worked out pretty well. By April we've got a system down: ski hard in the morning, cruise in the afternoon. He drives. I bring lunch.

Between the two of us, we have a stupid number of dietary restrictions- he's allergic to nuts and dairy, and I don't eat meat- so I've had to get a little creative. I had purchased the cauliflower to make this, which I first ate with a friend on a muggy summer night in Cambridge that has pleasantly stuck in my memory. For skier's lunch, I turned it into a grain salad (pantry to the rescue!) and it was so phenomenally good that I've made it almost every week since.

Or it's not, and I just have no creativity left. Could somebody make this and tell me if I'm nuts?

A couple notes: I had exactly one cup of farro left in my house when I tried this first, so there's one cup of farro in the recipe. I love the high cauliflower/grain ratio, but if you'd like you could use more farro. Additionally, you'll see I did something a little tricky with the vinegar- I love being able to taste it in the salad, but roasting a cauliflower with a half cup of liquid results in soggy cauliflower.

Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Farro and White Beans
adapted wildly from Epicurious

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 onion
1 can cannellini or other white beans
1 cup farro (dry)
4 green onions, white and green parts chopped finely

1.5 tsp cumin
1.5 tsp corriander
1 Tbs curry powder
1 Tbs paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, divided

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut the onion in half, then lengthwise into wedges. Pull apart the onion wedges, then put them and the cauliflower in a large roasting pan. It has to be something with sides- a glass baking dish works well here. 

Combine all spices in a small bowl; whisk in two tablespoons (half) the red wine vinegar and all the olive oil. What you end up with is more of slurry than a dressing, but that's ok. Add it to the pan with the cauliflower and onion and toss well. Roast for an hour*, tossing every 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the farro. Bring farro and water to a boil (1 cup farro to 2.5 cups water), then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Farro should be cooked through but still chewy, and you may have some water left over- that's fine, just drain it out. Toss farro with white beans, scallions and remaining two tablespoons of red wine vinegar (I like to use the vinegar to rinse out the spice bowl personally). Once the cauliflower is done, toss everything together.

A note on baking time- I'm aware this is significantly longer than cauliflower usually takes, but I think it's worth it. The extra time allows the onions get all caramelized, and also solves the aforementioned sogginess problem. If your oven is hotter than mine, take care not to burn anything.

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