Roasted Cauliflower with Annatto Seed oil is every bit as delicious as it is pretty. All of the natural sugars in the vegetable come out as it slowly roasts, caramelizing it to perfecting. And the annatto seed oil colors it beautifully, making it even more pleasing to the eye. Rosh Hashanah begins this Wednesday, September 28th, and my husband’s birthday is the 29th. I’ll be celebrating both with some “small plates” and a gluten-free birthday cake! Quite a combination, I know. 😉
In the food and restaurant world, “small plates” are essentially food on small plates. Literally. The idea is that a group of people can share several appetizers — or, small plates — and that together become the main course. I love this way of eating. It’s fun and you get to try so many things!
– annatto seeds –
I’ll be bringing a few different small plates to the Rosh Hashanah dinner we’re going to. And they’re all a little bit sweet, since eating sweet food symbolizes hopes for a “Sweet New Year.” And this Roasted Cauliflower with Annatto Seed Oil is no exception.
Roasted Cauliflower with Annatto Seed Oil
There are only three ingredients in this scrumptious vegetarian side dish, it’s a huge crowd pleaser; it’s easy to prepare; and it’s as sweet as candy. Truly. The annatto seeds add a gorgeous color the the cauliflower, which increases its beauty and appeal. Of course if you want to skip them for any reason, you can, and simply use olive oil for the roasting. The annatto seed oil doesn’t actually carry much, if any flavor — it’s all about the color.
And please, these sweet plates we’re making this week are in no way exclusive to a holiday, they’d be great at another delightful, cozy weekend dinner party, too.
Annatto seeds are derived from the fruit of the Achiote tree. Though the seeds have a very mild, sweet and peppery flavor, they’re typically used as a natural food coloring. You can find annatto seeds in most Mexican markets, and you can get them here.
And when you roast cauliflower, the key is cramelizing its surfaces — that’s what brings all the natural sugars — and flavor.
Can’t get enough cauliflower? Here you go:
- Cauliflower Steak with Orange-Basil Butter
- Sherry Mushroom Cauliflower “Risotto”
- Creamy Cauliflower-Jalapeño Soup
- Cauliflower-Basil Soup
Roasted Cauliflower with Annatto Seeds
Roasted Cauliflower with Annatto Seed oil is every bit as delicious as it is pretty. All of the natural sugars in the vegetable come out as it slowly roasts, caramelizing it to perfecting. And the annatto seed oil colors it beautifully, making it even more pleasing to the eye.
- 1 tablespoon annatto seeds (optional but suggested)
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 2 1/2 pounds cauliflower
- sea salt anf freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. (Yes, you read that right. The very high heat is crucial in making this so delicious!) Cover a baking sheet with foil and set it aside.
In a small saucepan, gently simmer the annatto seeds with the oil for about 4 minutes. The oil will become a deep golden, reddish color. The longer it sits, the darker it will become. When you're satisfied with the color, strain the oil into a jar, and discard the seeds.
Trim the greens and the root off of the cauliflower and cut it into approx. 1/2-inch slices. You won't have perfect slices, because many of the flowerets will break into pieces. Pour about half of the annatto seed oil on the foil-lined baking sheet and place the cauliflower on top. Drizzle with the remainder of the annatto seed oil and season generously with the salt and pepper.
Roast in the preheated oven until the underside of the cauliflower is golden. Use metal kitchen tongs to flip the pieces over and then brown the other side. Each side should cook for about 10 minutes and ultimately both sides will be beautifully caramelized.