My twist on this now-classic dish is to serve it with dukkah, a little-known nut-and-spice blend that’s Egyptian in origin but has been wildly popularized half a world away in Australia. Dukkah is wonderful on vegetables, but you can use it to make compound butter or as a sandwich spread, to add zest to a basic pesto, or simply instead of salt and pepper—I like to think of it as five layers of flavor in one little sprinkle. At Aussie restaurants, you’ll often find it added to the dish of olive oil that is served with bread.
- 2 large heads of cauliflower
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse kosher or sea salt
- 2 lemons, each cut into 4 wedges, separated
- Fresh chopped curly parsley
For the dukkah:
- 1 cup hazelnuts, cashews or almonds
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
To make the dukkah, start by toasting the nuts. Place them on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 10 minutes at 350°F until lightly browned. Set aside to cool (it’s not necessary to remove their skins), reserving the baking sheet for the cauliflower. Dry-toast the sesame, coriander and cumin seeds in a small frying pan on the stovetop, stirring constantly until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Keep your eye on them because they can burn easily. Transfer the nuts and seeds to a food processor and add the salt, pepper and cayenne. Pulse just until crumbly. Don’t overprocess, or the dukkah will turn into a paste. Alternatively you can use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. (This can be made in advance. Refrigerate if not using immediately.)
Next, turn the oven up to 400°F and prep the cauliflower. Remove the green outer leaves from each head and carefully trim back the stem. Stand the cauliflower upright on a cutting board and cut 2 “steaks,” each about ¾” thick, from the center of each head. Reserve the remaining cauliflower florets for another dish.
Arrange the steaks on the rimmed baking sheet (you may need an additional sheet if the heads are very large). For each slice, brush both sides with olive oil and squeeze on the juice from one lemon wedge. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning once with a spatula, until the cauliflower is tender and both sides are nicely browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a platter and liberally dust each piece with the dukkah. Drizzle with more olive oil, sprinkle with parsley, and serve with the rest of the lemon wedges.
Yields 4 servings.