On Jan. 20, Donald Trump became president of the United States. What better way to celebrate than to cook Middle Eastern food?
If you’re a supporter, take this opportunity to celebrate a victory that none of the experts predicted with delicious food that can be made to serve a party (or just one).
If you’re still in shock that a man who proudly plans to put burgers-and-hot-dogs America first is about to lead the free world, this is the perfect time to hold solidarity with the many Americans that are fearful of a pita-less world.
No matter your political identity, your taste bud identity should be staunchly pro-hummus.
The core of this recipe, and many Middle Eastern dishes, is the combination of tangy sweetness and deep spice. Complex, sweet flavoring like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves, each bringing a sweet, yet fiery flavor to a dish. Used in concert with cayenne, coriander, cumin or chili peppers, your meal will scream with flavor. And of course, don’t forget mint!
The spice blend I use here, which can be altered to fit your supplies, consists of:
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cardamom (or two cardamom pods broken open)
1 tbsp. cayenne pepper
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. coriander
Over the years of guzzling Indian, Mexican and anything with a kick, I have grown immune to spice, needing to crank up the heat in my dishes. If you live life a little cooler than me, adjust the cayenne.
Rice (1/2 cup per person)
Carrots (2 per person)
Cauliflower (equal the amount of carrots to cauliflower)
See alternative ingredients below.
Pre-heat oven to 400 with a rack in the middle.
Mix the dry spices together in a small bowl. With a wet pinky, taste the blend and adjust to satisfaction.
Using a rice cooker or pot, pour in ½ cup rice per person — add one part rice to two parts water. Sprinkle in salt and a splash of oil and set your rice to cook.
To make the florets, take the cauliflower and cut it into fourths, and remove the stem to easily break away florets into bight size pieces.
Cut carrots into the same sized pieces to ensure even cooking. I prefer a just larger-than-bites-sized cut to still have a touch of bite when cooked with the cauliflower.
On a parchment paper-lined baking sheet (it helps tremendously with clean-up), spread the veggies so they are evenly distributed, drizzle about half a cup of olive oil over them and roll them around to cover completely.
Sprinkle the spice mix over veggies and again roll to cover, and crack fresh pepper and salt to taste.
Put in the oven and check on their tenderness after 15 minutes. Just before being done, turn on broiler for no more than a minute to char up the top of the cauliflower.
If serving for multiple people: On a large platter pour veggies in to the middle and sprinkle with fresh cilantro and pomegranate seeds if available. Scoop rice around the edge and give a good splash of olive oil over everything. Serve with pita.
Alternatives to consider:
If you have the time, roast the carrots separately in a cast iron pan. Heat the pan on high heat, and put carrots in to create a beautiful, golden outer char. The carrots should hiss when hitting the pan — it’s the moisture steaming off from inside the veggie. After a few turns of the carrots, turn heat to medium high, and add in oil and the reserved half of the spice blend. Toss in the cast iron and put into the over with the cauliflower to cook through.
Alternatively, adding other ingredients is perfectly acceptable. Tomatoes, eggplant, green olives, onions and fennel can all be added to this one sheet dish.
Contact CU Independent Multimedia Managing Editor and Culinary Contributor Jackson Barnett at Jackson.Barnett@colorado.edu.