Whole roast cauliflower with muhammara

Ingredients

½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme leaves
20g butter, at room temperature
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium cauliflower

For the muhammara:
3 red peppers (or 4 romano peppers)
100g walnuts
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
½ tsp Turkish red pepper flakes (or other mild dried chilli)
100ml olive oil 
2 tsp pomegranate molasses
30ml red-wine vinegar

Instructions

  1. Heat the oven to 230C/450F/gas mark 8. Pierce the peppers a few times with the tip of a knife, then place on a baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes, turning once, until slightly blackened and very soft. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling-film and leave to steam while they cool (this makes them easier to peel later).

  2. Meanwhile, combine the paprika, thyme and butter, and season generously. Trim the cauliflower stem so it will sit flat, and pull back the leaves a little to expose the head. Rub the head all over with the paprika butter, then put the cauliflower in a casserole into which it fits snugly. Pour 75ml water into the bottom of the pan (not over the cauliflower, or you’ll wash off the butter), cover the pot and roast for 35-40 minutes. Take off the lid and roast for another 15 minutes, by which time the tip of a sharp knife should go in easily.

  3. While the cauli is baking, make the muhammara. Remove and discard the pepper skins, stems and seeds. In a food processor, blitz the walnuts, garlic, salt, cumin and chilli to coarse crumbs, add the peppers and blitz briefly. Combine the oil, molasses and vinegar, then add to the mix in a steady stream with the motor still running. Don’t over-process, because you want some texture.

  4. Cut the cauliflower in half vertically and serve on top of the muhammara with a green salad.

Vicky Skingley