Roasted Saffron Cauliflower – 2016 Grenache
Initially I was going to write up the recipe for the lamb skewers that were the protein of the dinner that went with the ’16 Grenache, but for me it was the vegetables, particularly this one, that really pleased me. So, here is the recipe. When buying saffron, don’t try to cut corners. Like truffles, if you try to go cheap the flavor just won’t be there.
4 heads cauliflower, 3-inches across, cut into 6 wedge shaped pieces*
12-15 saffron threads, crumbled into 1 teaspoon hot water
2-2½ tablespoons, or as needed, grapeseed, avocado, or mildly flavored olive oil
Salt and a little pepper
Heat oven to 425°F.
After fifteen minutes of more, whisk the oil into the saffron water. Whisk well so the saffron water is thoroughly amalgamated with the oil.
Place cauliflower in a non-reactive bowl that will hold the cauliflower easily with room to toss the wedges. Drizzle with the oil, moving the stream so you get all the vegetable. Gently toss the wedges so they get oil all over them. If there is not enough oil to cover, add a bit more, being sure to mix things around so the saffron oil coats all the cauliflower. Season with salt and pepper all over and allow to roast 10-30 minutes.
Place on a lightly oiled sheet pan and place in upper third of oven. Cook 20-25 minutes until cauliflower is cooked through but not mushy. It should be golden with a crust forming on the edges, and just tender.
When cauliflower is golden and just tender, it is ready to serve. Serve hot or room temperature.
Chef’s Notes: The cauliflower size is based on getting even-sized wedges (and what I got at farmer’s market) of a size. If you can’t find little cauliflower heads, use medium, or large sized head and cut florets into pieces around 1½ to 2-inches at widest, about 1¾ to 2 inches long.
This recipe went with lamb leg skewers with 1-inch cubes marinated with lavender, a little fennel seed, and an herb rub of thyme, marjoram, savory, and rosemary, garlic, and grenache. There were also grilled 3/8th-inch slices of Japanese eggplant brushed with oil and dusted with oregano and marjoram. Also served were grilled padron and guindilla peppers along with roasted potatoes tossed with marjoram. All of these components went so well together and made the flavors of the wine pop. I recommend giving them a try, especially since there is not a lot work involved. For a vegetarian meal, switch out the lamb for Portobello mushroom, being sure to remove the gills if they are any color but pale pink to avoid bitterness. Treat the mushrooms the same as the lamb, but use a lower heat on the grill to allow the mushrooms to develop flavor.