Don’t get me wrong, I love being dr deb. My work is meaningful, important, interesting, lucrative, and rewarding. I’ve been a practicing psychologist for 28 years and I’m good at it. But I watch my husband, friends, and colleagues aspire to and achieve impressive professional goals and I wonder what is wrong with me.
I don’t want to be a leader in psychology, do research, teach, develop a new theory or see a million patients a week. I want to make a substantial difference in a select few lives and spend the rest of my time outdoors, in the pottery studio, and in the kitchen.
But…I got feeling insecure about this earlier in the week. I had lunch with Karen; she is a superstar! My husband is a powerhouse. He is a genius and he loves being a psychologist. His work as a teacher, administrator, leader, researcher and writer is just mindblowing to me. He asked me to edit a letter in which he outlined his credentials. I was both impressed and deflated. To be completely honest, I felt like a worm. A proud worm.
Let’s be real; I am never going to be a huge success. I am way too late on the scene in the food world, the blogosphere, and the ceramics community. There are people half my age whose accomplishments leave me in the dust. And I’m ok with that most of the time. But every so often, I have a bit of an identity crisis. When that happens, I remind myself to stop being so narcissistic and to center myself in what I love: making pots, making food, putting them together and sharing them.
This vegetable dish will probably not make me famous, it’s an interesting flavor combination; really, really good. I’m giving it to you here on cauliflower, but I’ve tried it with Brussels sprouts, and chicken so far and gotten rave reviews…well… my friends and husband liked it; I haven’t made it into Genius Recipes yet. Have you read it? Amazing! Talk about geniuses and people half my age! See why I feel like a worm?
This really is an umami party on a plate. You can vary the spiciness to your liking by adjusting the cayenne. The toasty parmesan combined with the smoky paprika and the bit of fire on the tongue makes for a very savory experience. And it’s easy.
Genius-ish Umami Roasted Cauliflower
This is naturally vegetarian and gluten free. Make it dairy free, vegan, and paleo by subbing sesame seeds for the cheese.
1 large head cauliflower, cleaned, trimmed, but not cored
3 tbs. olive oil
½ cup parmesan, finely grated
1 tbs. smoked paprika
salt and cayenne pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 375°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
Mix all the ingredients except cauliflower in a soup size bowl. You’ll have something between wet sand and paste.
Think about how you want to cut the cauliflower. You might want to make steaks as I have done here. You will have lots leftover, which Dan Barber turns into puree. I prefer to roast them in a separate pan. Just make sure you cut the bigger pieces so that are flat sides because you get better caramelization that way.
Or, you might cut the head into wedges.
Or, break up the head into florets and then cut the big pieces in halves or quarters so there are nice, flat sides.
OK, you have your cauliflower ready. If you’re working with wedges or steaks, put them on a plate. All the other preparations can go into a big bowl.
The gist of this preparation is that you’re going to schmuzzh (yes, that’s right) the sandy paste into the cauliflower. You’re kind of pressing and rubbing and smearing so that the vegetable pieces are more or less coated and some of the mixture gets into the crevasses. I was going to say ”nooks and crannies”, but as Molly and Matthew
pointed out recently, that is a rather meaningless redundancy.
Now, lay the messy, unevenly smeary pieces on the baking sheets, and pop into the oven. Roast for 25- 30 minutes or until they are tender and very dark reddish brown. Serve immediately or let cool to room temperature. You may do this ahead, say for Thanksgiving, it reheats surprisingly well.