Cauliflower with Saffron and Peas, A Super-Food Combination

Cauliflower has come into its own over the last few years.  No longer taking a back seat at the markets to colorful vegetables, it is now at the forefront, available in orange, purple and, my favorite as of late, a verdant Romanesco. Everyone from Dr. Dean Ornish to Dr. Mehmet Oz has proclaimed the value of foods with color; colorful cauliflower has joined the ranks of cancer-fighting cruciferous vegetables.  Good for the liver and full of phyto-chemicals, it is healthiest steamed or eaten raw.

Known as one of the rarest and most expensive spices, saffron is an ancient spice collected from the stamens of a crocus flower.  Traces have been found in Iranian pigments dating back 50,000 years and in ancient Minoan Thera, 3000 year old frescos of Akrotiri show women harvesting and using it. While bathing in Persia, Alexander the Great discovered saffron as a curative for the wounds of war and brought it back with him to Greece.  Cleopatra took saffron baths to increase the pleasure of lovemaking.  Recent studies have found it to contain cancer-fighting properties as well as powerful anti-oxidant compounds and Ayurveda medicine tells us it is good for the brain.  It is often combined with sandalwood paste as a topical treatment to cool the head.

Saffron is commonly used in Indian cooking where it is considered a delicacy.  Inspired by the rich flavor and creamy dishes of Kashmir in Northern India, this recipe combines the two super foods, saffron and cauliflower, into a delicious side dish.  English peas are added for color and texture and is an easy to digest protein.  The cauliflower is steamed and the peas blanched to preserve healthy properties.

Kashmiri Cauliflower with Saffron and Peas

Serves 4

Saffron-Almond Sauce
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/2 cup sweet onions, finely diced
1/2 cup almond meal/flour
1 cup almond milk
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Heat oil in a 12 quart saucepan on medium heat.  Add onions and cook until clear.  Add almond flour, almond milk, water pepper, saffron and salt.  Cook until sauce thickens.  Reserve.

1 teaspoon coconut oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon green chilies, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
6 cups cauliflower florets, steamed
3/4 cup shelled English peas, blanched
1 cup cilantro, chopped

Heat oil in a skillet on medium-high heat.  Add cumin seeds and cook until brown and fragrant, then add chilies.  10 seconds later, add molasses and cinnamon. Stir in water and sea salt.  Allow most of the water to evaporate.  Gently fold in cauliflower until the florets are coated.  Fold in saffron sauce and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.  Just before serving, fold in English peas and cilantro.  Serve immediately.


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