I loved most vegetables, but there were always a few exceptions, like broccoli, cauliflower, and a few root vegetables like rutabagas and turnips. Then I discovered roasting vegetables. When the outside caramelizes and starts to scorch, the sugars come out and the texture gets creamy. All those vegetables I was unconvinced about suddenly became favorites.
This week, I had a cauliflower trifecta. It started with the latest recipe for Cook the Book Fridays: Dukkah-Roasted Cauliflower. This recipe from David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen one ups simple roasted cauliflower. First, you start the cauliflower florets roasting. After about half an hour, even though I would usually consider the cauliflower done, it’s tossed with dukkah and roasted some more. When it’s done, it’s crusty on the outside and melting on the inside. Delicious!
As for the dukkah, a while back, I bought a jar at Trader Joe’s. We dipped bread into olive oil and the Egyptian spice and nut mixture. It was good, but not exceptional. For the cauliflower recipe, I made my own dukkah (per David Lebovitz’s instructions), and as you might expect it was a completely different story. A mixture of toasted hazelnuts, toasted seeds (pumpkin, sesame, coriander, cumin, fennel, peppercorns) and kosher salt are ground up though not too fine. The fragrance was amazing. I can’t wait to have a chance to try dipping bread in the leftover dukkah!
The cauliflower makes a great side dish. My cauliflower must have been small because there is no way it made 4 servings, only 2. Next time I’ll make two whole cauliflowers to ensure leftovers. This is a definitely new favorite.
The second hit was a whole roasted cauliflower with an almond-herb sauce from the New York Times by way of Joanne Weir’s new cookbook Kitchen Gypsy. The entire cauliflower is roasted in a hot cast iron pan for 1-2 hours until burnished on the outside and melting on the side. I shared it with a friend for dinner, so we just cut it in half, covered it in sauce, and served it with jasmine rice and salad. I’m seriously excited about cauliflower.
This week I’m in Philadelphia visiting my sister. The catalyst was the chance to attend the 76ers basketball game on Harvey Pollack Tribute Night with my sisters, aunt, and cousins. My great-uncle Harvey, who passed away last summer, was a unique character and a basketball legend. He wasn’t a player, rather a statistician, known affectionately in the NBA as “Super Stat”. He expanded what’s collected and “invented” many of the stats in use today (like triple-doubles). Even though the team lost the game, we all had a great time and were proud to be there to help celebrate our uncle’s achievements.
While I’m in town, my sisters and niece and I went to dinner at Zahav, a modern Israeli restaurant in downtown Philadelphia. We enjoyed a tasting menu where each dish was better than the next. One of the standout mezze we had was the fried cauliflower with an herb-and-garlic labneh for dipping. I’m inspired to try this at home with roasted cauliflower, maybe even coated with dukkah.
If you want to know how my friends enjoyed their cauliflower, check out their links here. Due to copyright considerations, I don’t publish the recipes here. You can find the cauliflower on page 224 of David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen (Dukkah recipe on page 81). Or feel free to drop me a line and I’ll share it with you.
I felt ambitious this month and chose 3 different recipes to make for Cottage Cooking Club, a cook-along group for Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall´s “River Cottage Veg”. Started in May 2014 by the talented German blogger, Andrea, of Kitchen Lioness, this group is collectively making all the recipes in this book in one year.
The first recipe I tried was for Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon and Paprika. Cauliflower and broccoli are two vegetables that I’ve only recently started to enjoy. I like them best roasted. I’d never tried this seasoning combination before: roasted lemon wedges and smoked paprika. The flavors were delicious, but I mistakenly chose to roast the cauliflower in a high-sided roasting pan because it came out more steamed than what I expect for roasted. I might try this again, but if I do, I’d use a baking sheet with the hopes the cauliflower would caramelize.
The other two recipes were salads with warm interesting toppings.
One was topped with white beans with artichokes. This comes from the Pantry Suppers chapter. If your pantry is stock with a can of white beans and a jar of marinated artichokes you can whip this up whenever you wish. The beans and artichokes are sautéed together with garlic. This simple combination tops mixed greens for a light lunch.
Finally, what’s not to love about roasted squash and sautéed mushrooms on top of salad greens? I think this was my favorite of the three, so it’s pictured at the top of the post. The sweet roasted squash and the earthy mushroom were the perfect pairing. The tangy balsamic vinaigrette tied this hearty salad together. (This recipe called for blue cheese, I skipped it completely.)
After three months cooking along, I have to say that I’m really enjoying this book. The recipes are straightforward and delicious, offering flavor combinations that are sometimes familiar and sometimes new. I also value Andrea’s seasonal selections, allowing me to make the most of the best vegetables around each month. I wonder what November will bring?
If you are interested in reviews of other recipes selected this month, follow participant links here.