Everyone is obsessed with cauliflower, so I love this recipe because it provides unique ways of eating cauliflower that is respecting the integrity and not blitzing it up into a "rice"! I also love this recipe because it is fantastic for make-ahead and meal prep. I juggle two careers, so anything that can be made ahead and serve multiple meals/purposes makes my life easier. Plus, this particularly tastes better as the days go by.
Technique tips: Trimming the cauliflower core minimally helps keep the head intact. Marinating the cauliflower overnight allows the flavors to seep into the cauliflower florets and also lets the turmeric penetrate, resulting in a beautiful yellow color. Adding a little water to your sheet pan and placing the cauliflower on top will allow the water to create steam and cook the core. Rinsing and pre-soaking basmati rice is key to making the cleanest, fluffiest and quickly cooking rice.
For the cauliflower:1.
Ensure your cauliflower is trimmed of all the leaves, hard core taken out while still keeping the head intact, washed and dried.2.
Blend the rest of the ingredients (except the oil) together for the marinade. It should be creamy and very fragrant of fennel seed and onion. Taste it: It should be slightly salty, spicy and earthy.3.
Place the cauliflower in a bowl that is slightly bigger than the whole head. Pour the marinade all on the top and flip the cauliflower over and pour the marinade inside the cauliflower, making sure to really rub it into all the crevices. You want that marinade to seep in and flavor the entire head. Wrap the bowl with plastic wrap and then foil and place in the fridge overnight.4.
Preheat your oven to 350 F.5.
Line a baking pan with parchment paper then drizzle some vegetable oil. Place your cauliflower on top carefully and drizzle some more oil to coat the cauliflower. This prevents the cauliflower from getting dry in the oven. Add some water to the bottom of your baking sheet (about 2 tablespoons or so).6.
Place in the oven, uncovered, and bake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until fork-tender. Once fork-tender, switch your oven to broil and broil for 5-7 minutes, or until top of the cauliflower is charred. This will allow the top to get a nice golden-brown color and crisp up. Remove and let cool before handling.
For the Basmati Rice Pilaf:
While the cauliflower is baking, prepare the rice. In a large deep-set pan or heavy bottom pot, set over medium-low flame. Pour in oil. Once hot, add in cumin seeds and allow to toast and become fragrant, about 30 seconds or so. Add basmati rice, making sure to drain completely from the water. Toss in the oil with the cumin seeds. Add a pinch of kosher salt. Once it starts smelling nutty, add in the water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low, cover and simmer. After about 10-15 minutes, the water should all be absorbed and rice should be cooked through. Fluff with a fork.
Soak the dates in room temperature water for 2 minutes. This will make them slightly soft. Remove and roughly chop.2.
Carefully, using a sharp knife, slice the cauliflower into "steaks."3.
Serve cauliflower on top of Basmati Rice Pilaf. Garnish with chopped date, chopped fresh coriander and a lemon wedge.