za’atar roasted cauliflower
This is what happens when you get an edited manuscript, while working on another book and planning a wedding all the while your wrist is in a brace for five weeks. You fall behind on work because typing with one hand takes more time. Crazy concept, right?
Writing, in and of itself, is an amazing, thrilling, scary, exhilirating process. Just not with one hand. Typing with one hand is just frustrating. You think of something great to say while you’re finishing sentence, and by the time you get to the end of that sentence, you can’t remember what you were thinking of. It’s a lot of spurts and stops, like going somewhere in a taxi in New York; suddenly the cabbie slams on the breaks and you’re hurled towards the windshield. And before you’ve had time to collect your breath (and your poor discombobulated internal organs), the cabbie is hits the gas pedal and you’re thrown in the way back. Writing with one hand is a bit like that – spastic and not particularly efficient.
Also, it makes for crappy cooking, or rather no cooking at all. Even now, that my wrist is not in much pain, cooking with a brace is a bit restricting. In wearing a brace, my wrist is limited in its mobility. That’s sort of the point – let the ganglion cyst disappear and heal while I don’t have an opportunity to flail my hand. And for those of you who know me, I talk with my hands a lot. This limitation also means that every time there’s a heavy pot to tip over or wash, I make sad eyes and pathetic whimpers at Andrew, and he comes over and does it for me. Did I mention he is dreamy and amazing? Also, he’s gotten rather good at making Midnight Pasta.
So naturally, I’ve been trying to think of things I can cook using just one hand. You’d be surprised how resourceful you can get when faced with this situation.
The original recipe comes from Melissa Clark’s amazing book, “Cook This Now”. If you still haven’t gotten this book, get it immediately. It’s really that good. I got a little lazy with the original recipe. Having only one hand, I had to make things ridiculously easy. Fine, if you must know, I got lazy months ago with this recipe, but the results of that laziness have come in very handy (terrible pun!) given that I’ve half of my usual dexterity. With za’atar, you just throw in one spice and toss with oil and salt to coat. There’s already a blend of herbs and sesame seeds in there, so rather than having to open several spice bottles and toasting the seeds, you just need to open one.
Here’s how you do this whole thing with pretty much one hand. Use you’re “bad” hand to hold down the head of the cauliflower while you chop the florets off. Then scoop the florets, with your good hand, into a bowl, toss with a bit of za’atar, olive oil, and salt, and spread out in an even layer on a shallow baking dish. And while your cauliflower cooks in the oven, spoon a few dollops of lime pickle, or homemade mango chutney from a dear friend, into some yogurt (again, one hand needed), stir, and wait for the cauliflower.
When cauliflower is done, you just pull it out (again, just one hand is needed for this) and set it on a cooling rack. Dip your florets into the yogurt and eat. All with one hand.
And when your fiancé comes home from work and asks about the promised cauliflower, don’t tell him you accidentally ate it all. Tell him, instead, that you are injured and in pain, and he might just have to make the Midnight Pasta again. He’ll never know the truth. Just be sure to hide the dirty baking tray.
Za’atar Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted, liberally, from Cook This Now, by Melissa Clark
I hear a lot from people how they don’t like cauliflower. Then I ask them how they prepare it and they tell me they either boil or steam it. No wonder – I wouldn’t like cauliflower either if I had to eat it like that. Something amazing happens to cauliflower when it’s being roasted, and if you are a cauli skeptic, just try roasting it this way once – if you still hate it, I totally understand. But something tells me, you just might love it.
1 head (1 1/2 to 2 pounds) cauliflower
2 tablespoons za’atar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup whole or reduced fat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons mango chutney, lime pickle or a mix of the two (available at your Indian grocer)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Pomegranate arils, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 426 degrees F; position the rack in the middle. Cut the cauliflower into bite sized florets. Free free to cut up the stems as well. In a large bowl, toss together the cauliflower, za’atar, olive oil, and salt. Transfer to a half-sheet baking pan (13×18-inches) and roast for 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is browned and is fork-tender. Stir the cauliflower midway through the roasting process.
2. In a small bowl stir together the yogurt, chutney and/or pickle, and cilantro. Sprinkle with the pomegranate arils, if using. Serve with the roasted cauliflower, on the side.