Week Twenty-Four: Breads With Vegetables
First, I would like to say that it is very important to use a nonstick pan for this recipe. If you have a cast iron pan, now’s the time to use it. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, use whatever oven-safe nonstick pan you have. If you don’t have one of those, maybe you should wait to make this recipe.
There are some questions in this life we are destined to ponder forevermore, questions like, “Why are we here?”, and, “Is there a God?”. Here are some more to add to that pile, after I made this recipe: Why didn’t I use my cast iron pan? Why, in lieu of my cast iron pan, didn’t I use my nonstick pan? Why did I senselessly use my notoriously-sticks-to-everything pan? Some questions in life are unanswerable. How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?
But appearance notwithstanding, the end result was actually rather delicious. Curry and cauliflower is one of my favorite food combinations, especially when the cauliflower is roasted. It becomes nutty and caramelized, its mild flavor intensified and sweetened. The boldness and sweetness of curry powder is an ideal foil, enhancing the cauliflower while not drowning it out.
Mix this duo into a whole-grain flatbread, and I’m in heaven. It’s vegetable and bread, all in one! All you need is a side salad, and you’ve got a perfectly light, late Spring dinner. I served this bread cut into wedges, topped with a bit of plain yogurt, and garnished with a little chopped parsley and cilantro. Mint would actually be my preferred garnish, but I didn’t have any on hand. One does what one can.
Any fresh herb, though, adds a welcome brightness to this strongly-flavored flatbread. If you’re feeling ambitious, make an ersatz tzatziki, by mixing some chopped or grated cucumber, some lemon zest, and a pinch of salt into the yogurt. The creamy tartness of plain yogurt, contrasting with the warm crunch of the flatbread and the rich softness of the roasted cauliflower, was nothing short of wonderful. Protein, starch, vegetable, and spice; you don’t need much more than that!
But again, unless you want to spend a half-hour scrubbing your pan afterwards, make sure to use a cast iron or nonstick pan. That’s valuable “passing out on the couch” time; don’t waste it standing over the sink. You probably can’t tell from the picture above, but the lower half of that bread just wasn’t there. It clung to that pan like nobody’s business, to be later sworn at and scraped off at great cost of human life. There were tears and blood shed in abundance. Men may have died.
Seriously, use a nonstick pan.
Curried Cauliflower Flatbread
Adapted from Mark Bittman
Makes 1 round
1 medium cauliflower (1 1/2 pounds), cut into very small florets
4 tablespoons vegetable oil of any sort
Salt, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
4 1/2 ounces (about 1 cup) white whole wheat flour (see note 1 below)
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon curry powder (see note 2 below)
1/2 cup milk
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk (regular or light)
1. Preheat oven to 400º F. Prepare cauliflower and place in a baking pan or shallow roasting dish. Toss with 1 to 2 tablespoons of the oil to coat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Toss again, and roast for 15 to 25 minutes, or until soft and well-browned, stirring occasionally to cook all florets evenly.
2. Meanwhile, whisk the flour, salt, and curry powder together. Add the milk and coconut milk, and whisk until smooth. The batter should resemble pancake batter. Set aside.
3. When the cauliflower is done, let cool for around 5 minutes. While cauliflower cools, pour the remaining oil into a nonstick, ovenproof pan or skillet, and place in the oven to heat. While the pan heats, stir the cauliflower into the batter until just incorporated.
4. When the pan and oil are hot, but before the oil smokes, remove from the oven. Carefully pour the batter into the hot pan and smooth the top into an even layer with a heatproof spatula. Return the skillet to the oven. Bake at 400º F for about 1 hour, or until well-browned and firm when pressed lightly in the center. The bread should release easily when done. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 5 minutes before removing. Cut into wedges and serve warm.
1. If you don’t have white whole wheat flour, you can substitute a mixture of 3 ounces (about 3/4 cup) regular whole wheat flour with 1 ounce (about 1/4 cup) bread or all-purpose flour.
2. Instead of a pre-mixed curry powder, you can use the following combination to grind your own: 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 3 or 4 cardamom pods, 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds. In a small pan over medium heat, toast the above ingredients for about 3 minutes, or until fragrant, shaking the pan often. Do not let get over-brown. Cool slightly, and grind with a mortar and pestle, or in a coffee grinder. In the same pan over medium heat, toast 2 teaspoons ground turmeric and 1/4 teaspoon paprika for about 2 minutes or until a bit darker in color and very fragrant, shaking the pan often. Combine with the other ground spices, and use as directed.
3. Did I mention that it’s important to use a nonstick pan? Use a nonstick pan. Cast iron is best.