Thomasina Miers recipe for quick-roast cauliflower with pink pickled onions

These cauliflower tacos come from my new book, Meat-Free Mexican, which is out next week. In the book, they’re basted in a garlicky marinade made from the fruity, tangy seeds of the achiote tree, which is native to the Yucatan. With its distinct flavour and bright red colour, achiote works beautifully on cauliflower, and is increasingly available online. When I run out of it, tuttavia, I use harissa instead, which pairs beautifully with the classic Mexican combination of lime-pickled red onions and black beans.

While achiote is mild, harissa can be quite fiery, so adjust the quantity to suit your taste.

Prep 25 min
cucinare 35 min
Servi 4

1-3 tbsp harissa paste or achiote
4 spicchi d'aglio grandi
, peeled – 3 left whole, the other crushed
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano, o 1 small handful fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
1 cucchiaino di zucchero di canna
6 tbsp plain yoghurt
15ml fresh lime juice
5 cucchiaio di olio extravergine di oliva
, più 2 tbsp extra for the beans
1 large cauliflower
400g cooked black beans
Tacos or rice
, per servire

For the pickled onions
1 medium red onion, pelato, tagliato a metà e affettato finemente
30ml fresh lime juice
40ml fresh orange juice
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano

Cover the onion with boiling water, soak for 30 secondi, poi scola (this helps speed up the pickling process). Squeeze on the citrus juices, scrunch the onions for 10-15 secondi, then sprinkle with oregano, se si utilizza. Cover and chill for at least half an hour, to soften and pickle.

Heat the oven to 220C (200Ventilatore C.)/425F/gas 7. In a mortar, smash the harissa and three whole garlic cloves to a paste. Add the oregano, half a teaspoon of salt and the sugar, and pound again, then stir in the yoghurt, lime juice and olive oil, and taste to check the seasoning.

Cut the florets from the stem of the cauliflower, discarding the tough outer leaves and gnarly end of the stem, but keeping the tender inner leaves and the inner core. Cut the larger florets into halves or quarters and the inner core into similar-sized pieces (you want them bite-sized, but bear in mind that they will shrink when roasted). Arrange the cauliflower pieces over a large roasting tray (or two smaller ones), leaving room between the pieces so they roast rather than sweat. Rub all over with the paste, scrunch over a little sea salt, drizzle with olive oil, then roast for 30-35 minuti, until nicely caramelised all over.

Heat the remaining oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic. Once it’s pale golden, stir in the black beans, heat through gently and season (in Mexico, you’d cook them with an avocado leaf or a touch of anise).

Serve the cauliflower in tacos with the black beans and pickled onions, or with rice. A few wedges of lime never go astray, either.

Try using achiote to marinade pork chops or halloumi, and serve with the same pink pickled onions.

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