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Roasted Cauliflower with Preserved Lemon and Saffron

Yield: about 8 portions

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • ¼ cup  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 preserved lemon *, rind only
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 shallot, coarsely chopped
  • generous pinch saffron threads, crumbled
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup pitted oil-cured black olives or brined green olives, coarsely chopped
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano or 1 tsp. fresh
  • 1 Tbs. chopped parsley or cilantro
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Cayenne pepper or hot regular or smoked paprika

Preheat oven to 300 °F. Break or cut cauliflower into small, bite-sized florets. Toss with olive oil in a baking pan (non reactive). Bake until center is soft when pierced, and edges are browned.

Make dressing: Peel and smash garlic clove, then mince. Chop preserved lemon. Finely mince shallot. Combine in a bowl. Add the saffron and fresh lemon juice, mix, then let stand for 5 minutes. Add the pitted, coarsely chopped olives, 2 tablespoons olive oil, and the oregano, mixing thoroughly. Add ground black pepper to taste. Toss with baked cauliflower, adjusting salt and pepper and balancing the lemon and olive oil. Top with chopped parsley or cilantro.

*To make preserved lemons, scrub 2 ripe, umblemished lemons well and dry. Cut each into 8 wedges. Toss with 1/3 cup kosher salt and pack into a clean -pint glass jar with a glass or plastic-coated lid. Pour in fresh lemon juice to cover the lemons completely. Cover the jar tightly and let the lemons ripen at room temperature for 7 days, shaking the jar each day to distribute the salt and juice. To store, add olive oil to cover and refrigerate up to 6 months. You can top the finished jar of lemons with some olive oil, to enhance preservation. That oil is great in salad dressings.

(adapeted from Mostly Mediterranean, by Paula Wolfert).


Note: If preserved lemons are not available, substitute zest of 1/2 lemon, adding it to the cauliflower and oil mixture before baking.