Cauliflower Cake from Ottolenghi's Plenty More

I have always loved cauliflower, so it is nice to see that this little brassica get its 15 minutes in the spotlight. Granted, its current moment seems to be confined to substitution status for white rice. (Seriously, have you seen all of the recipes for cauliflower "rice"?  Enough to make anyone's paleo heart pitter patter.) But not for me--cauliflower can always step the spotlight, in any form. Enter Ottolenghi, center stage.

Let me tell you a little about this cauliflower cake. With the addition of the flour, this dish is a little bit more substantial than your basic egg dish.  Infused with onions, this cake is savory and satisfying.  And while there is the slightest whisper of turmeric, it's more for color than taste. I really wouldn't change a thing, even the slightly precious sliced onions placed ever-so-decoratively atop this cake. But come on, let's treat ourselves with a little decoration, even if we're serving this for a simple dinner.

Like a fluffier frittata, this "cake" can serve as a side dish (which is what it did for us as the husband grilled meat for us and some of our carnivorous friends and their ravenously carnivorous children), but trust me on this: make this little cake for your next brunch. 

Ah, hell. Just make this for your next meal, whatever it may be: brunch, lunch, dinner, breakfast, second breakfast, tea, mid-morning snack, 4 a.m. insomnia splurge. It doesn't matter. Not only is this cake astonishingly beautiful (and those seeds on the sides add beauty, crunch, and a sudden salvo of flavor), but it makes the whole house smell amazing. 

Finally, in house-related news that none of you have been waiting for: Our shower has been leaking, the dishwasher was draining incorrectly tonight, and the backyard is a mess. We are living here only one more month (and then we're moving only about 15 minutes north--more news to come soon). 

Sweet business, house. Just make it through the next five weeks.  I can bake you a cauliflower cake if that would make you feel better. I promise: it will make you feel better. 


Cauliflower Cake

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty More

4 Servings

1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1¼-inch florets (about 4 cups) 
1 medium red onion, peeled (6 ounces) 
5 tablespoons olive oil 
½ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary 
7 large eggs 
½ cup basil leaves, chopped 
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 
1½ teaspoon baking powder 
⅓ teaspoon ground turmeric 
1½ cups coarsely grated Parmesan or another aged cheese 
Melted unsalted butter, for brushing 
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds 
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (also known as black caraway) 
Salt and black pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 400°F.  

2.  Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.  

3.  Cut 4 round slices, each ¼-inch thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. 

4.  Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.  

5.  Line the base and sides of a 9½-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. 

6.  Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.


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