Slow-roasted spiced cauliflower with romesco

Christmas centrepiece: Whole-roasted spice-rubbed cauliflower sitting on romesco.
Christmas centrepiece: Whole-roasted spice-rubbed cauliflower sitting on romesco. Photo: Katrina Meynink
Dietary
Vegetarian

This spiced nutty cauliflower makes for Christmas Day greatness. Incredibly easy, all it needs is a shove in the oven and get-on-with-it sort of planning – perfect for the mayhem that often ensues at Christmas. You can make the romesco ahead of time if you want less to do on the day. Just warm through before serving.

Ingredients

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika

1 large head of cauliflower (about 850g), leaves trimmed, base intact (this helps keep its shape)

3 tbsp olive oil

½ cup water

Romesco

2 red capsicum

2 shallots

2 tbsp sherry vinegar

2 cups chopped tomatoes (fresh or from a tin)

1 tbsp currants

100g smoked almonds

2 cloves black garlic

140g tomato paste

To top

arils of ½ large pomegranate

½ cup microherbs

¼ cup roughly chopped pistachios

1 tbsp dried edible rose petals

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180C.

2. Add the coriander seeds and cumin seeds to a mortar and pestle and grind to a grainy powder. Add the paprika and stir to combine. Place the head of cauliflower in a roasting tray. Pour the oil over the cauliflower, sprinkle over the spices and gently rub them in. Add ½ cup of water to the base of the tray and loosely cover with foil (this is just for the first stage of cooking so that the spices don't burn). Place in the oven and cook for 1 hour. Begin to check on the cauliflower after 45 minutes by pressing it gently on the sides – you want some resistance. If unsure, slide in a knife – you should be able to move the knife into the cauliflower with a little resistance.

3. Remove the foil and cook until browned and crisp on top and a paring knife inserted into the centre of the cauliflower goes in and out easily, about 20-30 minutes. You may need to cook the cauliflower for longer depending on its size.

4. While the cauliflower is cooking prepare the romesco. Add the capsicums and shallots to a large roasting tray. Drizzle with olive oil and about 1 tablespoon of the sherry vinegar. Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven until nicely charred – the capsicum should be soft and the skin blackened (about 20 minutes).

5. Remove the seeds and skin from the capsicums and shallots. Add the cooked flesh and any juices from the roasting tin to a blender with the remaining romesco ingredients, including the remaining tablespoon of vinegar, and blitz until combined.

6. To serve, briefly warm the romseco in a saucepan over low heat then scoop onto a serving platter. Place the whole roasted cauliflower on top, then sprinkle with pomegranate arils, herbs, pistachios and rose petals. Season and serve, sliced into wedges.