Aziz Ansari has a hilarious bit in his Madison Square Garden show from a couple years back where he plays on the fact that meat, as a general culinary category, just absolutely owns vegetables—no competition. He compares the two like different approaches to basketball: vegetables are like a child throwing up a weak underhand shot and missing the hoop entirely while meats are like an NBA star soaring into a slam dunk. And the joke’s not just funny because of Ansari’s crazy mannerisms and eccentric delivery, but because he’s just so right.
Now accordingly, it would seem that a vegetable like cauliflower would inevitably bear the brunt of this joke—in fact, it’s literally Ansari’s first example. But perhaps not so fast. I’ve always thought that cauliflower’s plain flavor was meant to be more like a blank canvas than like a tasteless substance. And let me tell you: the work of art that this recipe brings out of this otherwise seemingly boring vegetable is certainly an exciting exception to Ansari’s poking fun.
I decided to take a Mediterranean route, which happens to be just about my favorite kind of food in the world, and it simply took cauliflower to new heights. Once I tossed in olive oil, lemon, chili flakes, a crack of black pepper, and a load of cumin and coriander, I had a spicy, flavorful beginning to a piercing and aromatic dish. And then when I made a tzatziki-inspired, mint-laced yogurt sauce, this dish became something else entirely. It has distinctive spices, biting flavors, creamy textures, and an all-around delightful delivery. Meat had a become a mere equal at this point.
This whole experience was only made better with with La Crema’s 2015 Monterey Chardonnay. It’s heavy on tropical fruit and citrus, which complements the dish’s savory flavors and rich acidity. It also ends with a buttery oakiness, which when done well in a chardonnay is really something to relish. So I urge you to put this dish to the test—can vegetables really measure up? Follow the recipe below to find out how big of a “yes” there is in store for you.
Head over to La Crema's blog now to get the recipe for this plate of cauliflower goodness.
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