Thomasina Miers’ recipe for quick-fried cauliflower with pink pickled onions | Mexican food and drinks

tthese cauliflower tacos are from my new book, Mexican without meat, which comes out next week. In the book, they’re slathered with a garlic marinade made from the fruity, tangy seeds of the achiote tree, which is native to Yucatan. With its distinct flavor and bright red color, achiote works beautifully on cauliflower and is increasingly available online. When I run out, I use harissa instead, which pairs beautifully with the classic Mexican combination of lime-pickled red onions and black beans.

Quick roasted cauliflower with pink pickled onions and black beans

While achiote is mild, harissa can be quite fiery, so adjust the amount to suit your taste.

Preparation 25 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Serves 4

1-3 tbsp harissa paste or achiote
4 large cloves of garlic
peeled – 3 whole, the other crushed
1 tsp dried Mexican oreganoor 1 small handful of fresh thyme leaves
Sea salt
1 tsp brown sugar
6 tbsp yogurt
15 ml fresh lime juice
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
plus 2 tbsp extra for the beans
1 large Cauliflower
400 g cooked black beans
Tacos or rice
to serve

For the pickled onions
1 medium red onionpeeled, halved and finely chopped
30 ml fresh lime juice
40 ml fresh orange juice
½ tsp dried Mexican oregano

Cover the onion with boiling water, soak for 30 seconds, then drain (this will help speed up the pickling). Squeeze the juices from the citrus fruits, squeeze the onions for 10 to 15 seconds and sprinkle with oregano if desired. Cover and let cool for at least half an hour, to soften and pickle.

Heat oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. In a mortar, smash the harissa and three whole cloves of garlic into a paste. Add the oregano, half a teaspoon of salt and the sugar and beat again, then stir in the yogurt, lime juice and olive oil and taste for taste.

Cut the florets from the cauliflower stem, discarding the hard outer leaves and gnarled end of the stem, but retaining the soft inner leaves and inner core. Cut the larger florets in half or quarters and the inner core into even-sized pieces (you want them bite-sized, but be aware that they will shrink when toasted). Place the cauliflower pieces on a large roasting pan (or two smaller ones), leaving space between the pieces so they roast instead of sweating. Rub the whole thing with the pasta, squeeze in a little sea salt, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-35 minutes, until nicely caramelized.

Heat the rest of the oil in a pan and add the crushed garlic. When lightly golden, stir in the black beans, heat gently and season (in Mexico, cook them with an avocado leaf or a dash of anise).

Serve the cauliflower in tacos with the black beans and pickled onions, or with rice. A few wedges of lime never go to waste, either.

The simple flex

Try using achiote to marinate pork chops or halloumi and serve with the same pink pickled onions.