I'll be honest: me and the humble cauli have been far from the best of buddies over the years, but of late I've tried to make amends (as well as cousin sprout, but more on that another day).
I'm not alone either: just as kale (yet another cousin) was huge a few years ago, one could well argue that 2015 was the year of the cauliflower. Here's a salad recipe which puts our friend on centre stage. Credit to Yotam Ottolenghi as it is certainly inspired by his work, but I've taken his and others' ideas and made it very much my own. It is certainly a very festive looking dish which is why I have included it today,
Roasting on a high heat keeps the crunch, yet concentrates the flavour as water leaves and adds some smoky notes. We then complement the earthiness of the lead with an earthy yet bright tahini lemon sauce. Finally we sprinkle the festive magic: sweet/tart pomegranate, grassy flat-leaf parsley, a cheeky bit of chilli and a dusting of sesame.
Roasted Caulflower Salad, Tahini Lemon Sauce, Pomegranate
Ingredients (serves 1):
1 medium cauliflower
1 tablespoon light olive oil
salt to taste
seeds of half a pomegranate (or as many or few as you want!)
small handful of flat-leaf parsley
half a large chilli (mild)
1 teaspoon of sesame seeds (again, adjust as required)
Tahini Lemon Sauce:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 clove of garlic
100 ml water
salt to taste
Break up your cauliflower into florets, into a baking tray: I like a variety of sizes: season lightly (remember the tahini sauce will be added later), add the oil and mix. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
When the oven is hot, roast for around 30 minutes. Move the veg around a few times, and take them out when they have browned a bit and have nice bit of charring around the edges (that's flavour, we love it!).
Meanwhile, whilst our star attraction is getting a tan, let's do some mise-en-place (fancy restaurant talk for prep).
Let's make the sauce: add the tahini into the bowl. Squeeze the lemon into it (I love to use a wooden reamer). At this point some serious magic happens as the tahini appears to curdle at first and then crazily thickens: I never get bored of this! Add the cumin, use a press to crush in the garlic, add the water and mix to thin, then season. The tahini should be quite thick: not pourable, yet still liquid.
Now prepare the other ingredients: free the seeds from our pomegranate, cut up the parsley and cut the chilli at an angle.
Once the cauliflower is ready, add it to a bowl and leave. Once cool, add the sauce and mix well. Finally, add to a serving platter, then artfully scatter an abundance of pomegranate seeds, parsley, chilli and some sesame seed rain!
You should now have a very festive looking salad which has a nice bunch of flavours going on: I hope it pleases.