Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Roasting Cauliflower and the New Waldorf Salad

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P1290972There’s pretty much no ingredient I won’t roast, but I find that spring vegetables are transformed particularly well by giving them the high-dry-heat treatment. Asparagus, sugar snap peas, carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli…I don’t know if they’re all technically spring-season crops where you live, but I consider them to be, and they all come out beautifully when rubbed with salt, pepper, and olive oil and then roasted in a single-layer on a sheet pan in the oven.

My favorite of all has to be cauliflower though. Again, I don’t know if this is technically a spring vegetable, but the ones in the supermarket have been looking great lately and I just love how it goes well with pretty much everything: Tossed in a green salad with some toasted nuts and grated cheddar; stuffed in a pita with hummus, shredded red cabbage and a drizzle of tahini mixed with lemon juice and olive oil; mixed with warm quinoa…

I buy two heads at a time to roast because it goes so quickly. I cut each head into florets (not too small because the pieces will shrink, but it’s actually nice to have a few smaller florets in the mix because these crisp up and taste like potato chips… aka the cook’s treat) and then coat them with a combination of kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, ground cumin, turmeric (hence the pretty golden yellow color) and Aleppo pepper for some kick (this is a Turkish spice that has a mild heat, you can substitute red chile pepper flakes, if you’d like, but I order my Aleppo from HERE). The result is like a middle-eastern/curried roasted cauliflower…

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For lunch this week I used it in a rice bowl with brown rice along with some toasted shredded coconut and golden raisins, and red leaf lettuce, tossed with a vinaigrette of white wine vinegar, dijon mustard, finely chopped shallots, maple syrup, and grapeseed oil.

P1290988That night we ate a tray of the roasted cauliflower for dinner over brown rice with some grilled sausages (the kids just plucked the roasted florets with their fingers out of a bowl, for some reason it actually does taste even better eaten this way).

Then I had the leftovers the next day for lunch again, this time in my version of a Waldorf Salad: Lettuce, curried-roasted cauliflower (with some of the toasted coconut and raisins that remained from the day before),  chopped apples, toasted walnuts, maple-shallot-yogurt vinaigrette, and crumbled feta (no grapes or celery like a traditional Waldorf because for some reason I hate grapes and celery in a salad, although roasted grapes are delicious and I’m thinking I should try adding that next time instead of the raisins). This is now my new favorite salad. And could it be any healthier? I think not.

Recipe for Waldorf Vinaigrette

Use a large jam jar or mustard far to mix the dressing. Fill the jar one third of the way with red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar. Add a pinch of salt, ground pepper, 1 tsp of dijon mustard, 1 shallot (finely chopped), 1/2 tsp of maple syrup, and then stir to combine. Fill the jar to about 3/4 of the way up with grapeseed oil (you can also adda little walnut oil or good olive oil as well, if you’d like, to make the dressing a bit richer) and a tablespoon of Greek yogurt. Close the lid again and shake well to combine. Taste and season if needed. Enjoy!

Toasting Coconut

To toast the coconut I use the thicker variety of shredded coconut (so not the finely shredded variety) and place it in a dry skillet over medium-low heat and toast until it turns a light golden brown, tossing it frequently so that it browns evenly.

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