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Roast Cauliflower with Rice, Spinach and Tomato

Blog from the Kitchen

Roast Cauliflower with Rice, Spinach and Tomato

Terry Stanislow

Did you know - cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable,  is very high in vitamin C, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, fibre, minerals and more!  Of course, cooking it will reduce the amount of vitamin C - but not in a big way and you can just eat more of it to compensate!  Cooking cruciferous veggies can be beneficial to those with thyroid issues too.  And -  as always, it's best to prepare dishes so that water will not be poured off.  Keep all of that nutrition power in the pot!

Another fun, foody factoid:  one of THE most deficient nutrients for meat eaters and non-meat eaters alike is - iron.  It's complicated and worth researching on your own if it's something that interests you.  Iron exists in several forms and absorption in the body is affected by numerous things such as overall metabolic efficiency, various health issues, cooking procedures, food combining - even prescription drugs, supplements and other minerals (or lack thereof) in the body.  What we can do here - work on our cooking and food combining to maximize the uptake of this critical mineral.  Coincidentally, (sure!), the iron in spinach (non-heme iron), is more bio-available when it is cooked - and moreso if cooked with certain things, such as vitamin C bearing fruits (like tomato) and cruciferous veggies (like - you guessed it - cauliflower!)

Here's an easy, one-pot dish that has the bases covered.  The big 'flower', the spinach, the tomato, a healthy grain and a squeeze of lemon juice (more Vitamin C). 

Assembly:  (15 minutes) STEP1: In an oiled (high heat oil) casserole dish (that has a cover), place your clean and sumptuous cauliflower (with the stem cut off and a bit of a depression at the bottom centre).  STEP2: Then, sprinkle in a measured amount of basmati rice (or other rice or grain like farro, quinoa) on the bottom of the dish.  I used 1/3 cup rice for my small baking dish and a double serving.  Adjust for more people as needed.  STEP3:  On top of that, place some chopped fresh spinach.  If you have a bigger dish, fill it up!  That spinach will wilt down to almost nothing.  STEP4:  On top of that, add some fresh, diced tomato.  STEP5:  Coat the cauliflower with a little vinaigrette (or lemonette rather) of your choice.  I find that cauliflower goes so nicely with spices like cumin and/or turmeric.  Curry fans - here's an opportunity for exploration!  'Traditional' chicken or turkey roast spices like paprika and sage would work too.  I used two tablespoons avocado oil, one teaspoon cumin, one minced garlic clove, one tablespoon za'atar blend (oregano, sumac, thyme, sesame seeds) and half a fresh-squeezed lemon.  Mix and match - it's your creation!  STEP6:  Lastly, add water to go with the rice or grain.  So, here, I used twice as much water as rice - 2/3 cup.  For quinoa I would do the same.  Just follow the directions for whatever grain you are using.  Don't forget - the veggies will make some liquid too, which is why I didn't use a whole cup of water for my rice.  There is no way to go wrong if you are on the top amount for liquid - it will work and just may be a bit more juicy!  (A little white wine will add a nice flavour and won't hurt a bit.)  Salt and/or pepper to taste of course.

STEP7:  Cover, and pop into a pre-heated oven at 350F for about a half hour, then turn down the heat to 300F and cook it for at least 45 minutes or another hour depending on your appliance.  I went with an hour for my gas stove.  I was busy working around the place, so I turned off the oven and let it sit in there for another 20 minutes and it still came out - perfect!  It's a very forgiving dish and you'll get your best cooking times down when you try it with your own oven and cookware.  (If you are a slow-cooker fan, I'm sure you know what to do.)   If you like a crusty effect, take the lid off near the end for awhile to brown it up more.   Let it rest for a bit before serving.  Be aware - overcooking will reduce the nutrition a little.  STEP8:  Enjoy!  I drizzled on - olive oil and lemon juice with a sprinkle of chives.  Yowza - wish I had a smella-net app so you could appreciate how great it smelled in the house while it was cooking.

Bonus:  This one is super for heated leftovers the next day - I know, because I just had it for lunch to fuel up for a nature hike - enjoy your big flower folks!