I have never asked my mother, but I suspect she is not a fan of cauliflower. I don't remember eating it much when I was growing up and so came to love it rather late in life. It's a homely vegetable and I can see why many people don't like it. As with all members of the cabbage family, it leaves a lingering smell that isn't really all that appetising, especially once dinner is over. It's easy to over-cook and when you do it turns into a smelly, mushy unattractive mess. But when it's treated well and given a little spicy lift, it can be truly delicious: filling and full of flavour and wonderful comfort food. This dish brings out the best in the humble cauliflower and I'm going to be making it again. I might even try it on the Critic (who thinks he doesn't like cauliflower).
I have been making a lot of extra vegetables lately, as the baby now has solid food - mostly vegetarian - twice a day. For this recipe, I roasted a whole cauliflower and used half in the quiche and half as baby food. Roasting the cauliflower makes it easier not to overcook it and also adds a nice depth to the flavour.
The cumin in this recipe works beautifully to pull together cauliflower, cheese and egg into a lovely coherent whole. I can't decide if I liked it better hot from the oven or cold the next day for lunch; either way you won't be disappointed!
Roasted Cauliflower and Cumin Quiche
1/2 a head of cauliflower
1 Tbs cumin seeds
2 Tbs olive oil
5 eggs plus one white
1/3 cup / 75 ml cream
2/3 cup / 150 ml milk
1/2 tsp salt
60 g (about a half cup) grated sharp cheddar cheese
1 pie crust (Note that this recipe, which I used, calls for one egg yolk, thus explaining the extra white in the filling. If you are using your own recipe or a pre-rolled crust, you can use another whole egg instead of a single white.)
Preheat the oven to 180c/350F. Wash the cauliflower and shake it dry. Cut off the rough bottom of the stem so that it sits flatly on a surface. Drizzle a little olive oil in a baking pan, place the head in the pan and drizzle a little more oil over it. Bake for 40 minutes or until tender. If the head looks like it is browning too quickly or drying out (mine did at about the 30 minute point) you can add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and cover with tin foil.
In the meantime, make the pie crust and put the dough in the refrigerator.
About fifteen minutes before the cauliflower is done, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Grind the cumin and salt with a mortar and pestle. Mix the eggs, cream and milk and whisk well. Stir in the cumin and salt.
Roll out the pie crust and place in a pie tin. Blind bake the crust in the still hot oven for ten minutes. While it is baking, remove the cauliflower (if done) and let it cool on the counter. Grate the cheese.
To assemble the quiche, spread the cheese on the bottom of the pie crust. Slice the cauliflower in thick (3/4", 2 cm) pieces, keeping them together as much as possible so they look more decorative. Spread over the cheese and cover with the egg mixture. Bake in the hot oven for 30-35 minutes, or until golden brown on top and set. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving.