Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate

The lamb shanks are flavored with North African spices that wake up the rich meat and vegetables with a handful of pomegranate seeds and fresh mint leaves sprinkled on just before serving. Problem was, we didn’t take into account that grocery stores don’t carry pomegranates or their seeds at this time of year (February).

In North America, pomegranates have traditionally only been available during late summer to early winter. Recently, some suppliers have begun importing from the Southern Hemisphere during the rest of the year, but most availability is still limited to the traditional season… Now we know… And so do you!

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As an accompaniment for the Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate, we found this intriguing Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco by Mark Bittman on the NY Times Cooking site. In this recipe, a whole head of cauliflower is boiled and then roasted until gloriously browned. It is served with a rich romesco sauce, resulting in a the dish that is meaty and filling. It could even command center stage.

Normally we are all about cooking from scratch, but we certainly don’t eschew using premade products on occasion, and this was one of those times. We had a small jar of Romesco sauce imported from Spain in the pantry and decided just to go with that.

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The best laid plans… just as the lamb was finishing in the oven, and the cauliflower was getting prepped, but not yet cooked, we had a minor medical emergency that put the brakes on dinner. But this is one of those dishes that benefits from being reheated, so later that week, our main entree just needed warming, while we concentrated on roasting the cauliflower and making side salads.

When ready to enjoy this meal, Russ suggested we combine the cooked onion/carrot mix with the sauce using an immersion blender. Brilliant idea—but in the end we decided NOT to blend it—rather, it was a perfect addition for topping both the lamb and the cauliflower. (So much for the jarred romesco sauce!)

Recipe for the Whole Roasted Cauliflower with Romesco

Ingredients*

  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 1 medium-to-large head cauliflower
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup Marcona almonds
  • 1 small garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

*If you are using prepared romesco sauce, all you’ll need is the cauliflower and olive oil.

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A head of cauliflower is boiled for 15 minutes.

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Once boiled, the cauliflower is placed on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt.

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The head is gloriously browned after about 45 minutes in 450 degree oven.

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot 2/3 of the way with water, and set to boil.
  2. If making your own romesco sauce, turn on the broiler, and put the rack about 4 inches from the heat source. Put the peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet, and broil, turning as each side browns, until they have darkened and collapsed, 15 to 20 minutes. Wrap the peppers in the same foil that lined the pan; when they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins, seeds and stems (this is easiest under running water). Set aside.
  3. Heat the oven to 450. Remove the leaves from the cauliflower. When the water boils, salt it generously. Submerge the head of cauliflower in the water, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until you can easily insert a knife into the center, 15 minutes or more. Don’t overcook.
  4. Using two spoons or a shallow strainer, transfer the cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet, and pat dry with paper towels. Drizzle all over with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and roast until it’s nicely browned all over, 40 to 50 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile if making the romesco sauce, combine the roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, vinegar and a sprinkle of salt and pepper in a food processor. Turn the machine on and stream in 1/4 cup olive oil; purée into a thick paste. Taste, and adjust the seasoning.
  6. When the cauliflower is browned, transfer it to a serving platter. Cut it into slices or wedges, and serve the romesco on the side for dipping.

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