Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower and Dates with Tahini and Pine Nuts - Alison Roman

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"The quickest and easiest way to make cauliflower delicious is to roast it fast and furiously. It’s a sort of sneak-attack approach: placing it in the hottest oven possible to get the edges and bits to start carmelizing and browning before the florets turn to a total mush, which they are wont to do."

  • 1 head of cauliflower (including green leaves or stems), sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick steaks

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed

  • 5 tablespoons olive oil

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 6 dates, pitted and halved

  • 3 tablespoons tahini

  • 1/2 cup pine nuts

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced

  • 1 cup mint leaves, coarsely chopped

  • 1/2 cup tender cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped

  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or white wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees.

Using your hands, break the cauliflower into smaller florets, keeping the stalks long (this way you get some well-roasted tender parts as well as smaller, crispier parts). Toss the cauliflower and cumin with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Roast, tossing occasionally, until just starting to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the dates, toss to coat, and continue roasting until the cauliflower is deeply brown and caramelized all over and the dates are plump and starting to caramelize around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Meanwhile, whisk the tahini and 2 tablespoons water together in a small bowl; season with salt and pepper.

Toast the pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, shaking the skillet occasionally, until the pine nuts are golden brown and smell like popcorn, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool enough to coarsely chop.

In a small bowl, combine the pine nuts, scallions, mint, cilantro, vinegar, and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper.

Spoon the tahini onto the bottom of a large serving platter. Remove the cauliflower and dates from the oven and place them on top of the tahini. Spoon the mint mixture over and serve with any extra alongside.