Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Roasted Cauliflower with Hazelnuts Salad




No one told me that allspice could do this to cauliflower.  Well, nobody until now.  And let me, via the wisdom of Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, be the one to tell you that allspice can do this to cauliflower:  not only is it a surprisingly sharp burst of flavor, especially when paired with  said cauliflower, it is a remarkably good one, particularly when added to little vinegar and maple syrup.


As detailed in my previous entry, I am spending my days holed up in a cabin in the woods, where I am reading, grading, running, gathering wood, doing yoga, grading, cooking, making fires, grading.  Thus far, I have graded 20 papers, which given that I average 3 an hour (I do wish I were a faster grader—I thought when I first entered teaching that the grading would somehow become quicker. It has not.), well, let’s not do the math.  Good news:  only 44 more to go.   


When I am not reading about who is to blame for the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, I am taking care of business with another of Ottolenghi’s cookbooks.  (Seriously, I have an Ottolenghi habit.  More on that next entry.)  I put together this wonderful cauliflower and hazelnut salad—enough for a solo dinner and lunch to boot.  It's sweet, savory, crunchy, and soft.  Consider it texture and flavor heaven.  It is a paradoxically light but robust meal.  It’s light in that there’s not a lot going on: we’re talking cauliflower, nuts, celery.  But satisfying because of this spice combination and the roasted cauliflower, a veggie I always find more pleasing in its roasted state.  Ottolenghi recommends this be served with chicken or fish, but I found it to be delightful all on its own. 

 

Actually, scratch that—not entirely on its own.  I had been aching to reread Island of the Blue Dolphins.  This comes inspired by a long walk I took about a month ago along the headlands of Mendocino.  Posted along most of the cliffs around here are signs decrying the poaching of abalone.  I remember my first introduction to abalone through Scott O’Dell’s little book, where Karana and Ramo hunt them.  As I walked in the wind and fog, I longed to return to this little book, which I have distinct memories of checking out from the local library.  Thus, I trekked from the headlands to the delightful Mendocino bookstore (the Gallery Bookshop), where they did not have Island, neither then nor the time I returned last week.  Thanks to the modern miracle that is Amazon Prime, I had a dinner companion last evening. 

 

Now go mix some allspice with your cauliflower, pronto!



One Year Ago: Cioppino
Two Years Ago: Chicken with Cauliflower and Red Peppers
Three Years Ago: Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto
Four Years Ago: Frakh Ma'amra (Mediterranean Pigeons or Squabs Stuffed with Couscous)

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Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnuts Salad
Adapted from  Jerusalem
Yield:
Serves 1-2 (main dish), 3-4 (side salad)

Ingredients:  
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets 
2 tablespoons olive oil 
5 tablespoons hazelnuts/filberts 
2 medium to large celery stalks, sliced 
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley leaves 
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (I didn’t have any, so I substituted blueberries) 
generous ¼ teaspoon cinnamon 
generous ¼ teaspoon allspice 
1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar 
1 teaspoon hazelnut oil 
1 ½ teaspoon maple syrup 
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:
1.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 
2.  Mix the cauliflower with the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, ½ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper.  Spread out in a roasting pan, and roast for 25-35 minutes, until the cauliflower is crisp and parts of it have turned brown.  Transfer to a large mixing bowl and set aside to cool down. 
3.  Decrease the oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, until they smell nutty.  Be careful not the burn them. 
4.  Allow the nuts to cool a little, then coarsely chop them and add them to the cauliflower, along with the rest of the ingredients.  Stir, taste, and season with salt and pepper.

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