Me and My Salad [Cauliflower Salad with Almonds, Apricots & Fried Capers]

As I shoved the last bite of this salad into my mouth the other day, I knew I would have to share it with you all. I’ll make this short, sweet, salty and sour. 


It’s become clear that I not only have an issue with baked eggs, but cauliflower too. I can’t get enough lately. I want it all, and I want it now. This salad sort of threw itself together as I stood in the kitchen, watching it all unfold before my eyes. It was as if my brain couldn’t keep up with my hands, grabbing, tossing, mixing, and then there we were. Me and my salad. Sitting down to a lovely lunch together. 

This bad boy has it all. A gentle nuttiness from the caramelized bits of cauliflower, a pungent brininess from the fried capers, gentle heat from the almonds and a slight sweetness from the dried apricots. All this pulled together with a creamy orange-scented yogurt dressing. It might sound a bit much, but believe me when I tell you these flavours were meant to be married into one big delicious family. And then eaten by you! 



Cauliflower Salad with Almonds, Apricots & Fried Capers
serves 2 

1 large (2 small) head of cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
olive oil
1/3 cup raw almonds
pinch or two cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 cup capers, stems removed if necessary
small handful of dried apricot slices, diced
1/2 cup orange-yogurt dressing (recipe follows)
fresh ground pepper, to garnish

Preheat oven to 350. 
Toss cauliflower florets with 2 pinches of salt and enough olive oil and to lightly coat. Pour onto a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until florets begin to brown around the edges. Turn florets over and bake for another 6-7 minutes until golden. 

While cauliflower cooks, put a small saucepan over medium heat and drizzle very lightly with olive oil. Add the almonds and a pinch or two of cayenne pepper, more if you like it spicier. I didn’t add salt to mine, but you can if you’d like. Let sit for 3 minutes until lightly toasted on one side. Shake the pan and let toast for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Remove to a paper towel lined plate to cool. 

In the same pan, add 1/3 cup olive oil and bring to med-high heat. Add the capers and let them fry until they’ve opened slightly and start to crisp up, 40-60 seconds for small capers, 1-2 minutes for large ones like I used. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

Toss the cauliflower, almonds, capers and apricots into a large mixing bowl and toss with 1/4 cup dressing. If it’s too dry, add a little more until it’s coated to your liking. Serve warm with lots of pepper and dressing on the side for those who want more. 

Orange-Yogurt Dressing
makes 1 cup

If you don’t use all the dressing, it makes a great marinade for chicken!

1 cup plain Greek yogurt
zest from 1/2 large orange
juice from 1/2 large orange
pinch salt
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp olive oil
water

Mix all but the water in a small bowl. If the texture is thin enough already (it should be similar in texture to a slightly thicker buttermilk), don’t add water. If it needs to be thinned slightly, add water 1/2 tbsp at a time until texture is to your liking. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, honey or orange juice if needed.  

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A Panicked Moment [Curry Roasted Cauliflower Dip/Spread]



Sometimes it’s the moments of panic that surprise you. The final 40 minutes before you head out the door to a friend’s house when you realize your tiny bowl of hummus and pita chips doesn’t look like much of an offering. And so you panic; repeatedly opening and closing the fridge, hoping something in there will jump out and inspire a simple dish, you check the pantry to see what sort of beans are in there (none? Frig!), you dig through the crisper and spice drawer like a certifiable maniac.

 
And then you see the head of cauliflower. It’s browned around the edges but nothing a few swipes of the knife can’t fix. You look in the fridge again to see that same container of Greek yogurt you’ve been avoiding all week (in place of bagels and croissants) and some curry powder left out on the counter from last week. This is good, these things can make something edible. I know it!

I roasted, pureed and finished with a drizzle of grassy olive oil and cayenne pepper, stuck it in a paper bag (because we’re also out of any sort of kitchen wrap, tin foil or anything normal people usually keep their kitchen stocked with – it’s been a busy week and we’ve neglected our shopping duties) and hauled ass out the door. Much to my surprise, my girlfriend Ashley (hi Ashley!) enjoyed this panicked, cooked-by-the-seat-of-my-pants dip more than my hummus, which is typically highest on her list of requests whenever that fateful question, “What can I bring?”, comes up. I must admit, I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, too. The combination of warm spices, Greek yogurt and roasted garlic make for a decadent dip or spread that’s hearty without the calories of your typical creamy dip. Whether you’re dragging a pita chip through it, spreading a thick layer on a sandwich with fried eggplant and peppers, or simply scooping it up with your hands (guilty), I think you’ll be pretty tickled that so few ingredients can result in such a tasty eat-the-whole-bowl-by-yourself-without-feeling-bad sort of snack.

She asked that I share the recipe so here we are. If you’ve got an old head of cauliflower and a few other basics on hand, you can whip this up in 30 minutes.



Curry Roasted Cauliflower Dip/Spread
makes approx. 1 1/2 cups

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
4 cloves garlic, whole
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
pinch or two cinnamon
salt
Olive oil
1/4-1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1-2 tbsp lemon juice, depending on taste
cayenne pepper, to garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 375. 

Place the cauliflower, spices, garlic cloves and two generous pinches of salt into a large bowl. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat everything. Toss onto a baking sheet and roast for 10-15 minutes, until edges of florets are golden brown. Flip the cauliflower and roast another 8-10 minutes until everything is golden and fork-tender. 

Place into a food processor/bullet with the greek yogurt, lemon juice and a good drizzle of the olive oil and blend until smooth. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if necessary. Spoon into a large bowl and drizzle with a touch more olive oil and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper. Serve with veggies, pita, bread or spread on sandwich or panini of your choice. 

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Simple Dishes for Entertaining [Spanish Chicken & Chorizo with Potatoes & Cauliflower]

I’ve been so completely all over the place lately that I forgot completely we were having some friends over for dinner last night. 

Not daring to ever serve guests take-out at my house (the reason for that is much less pretentious than it sounds, I just REALLY like takeout and want it all to myself) I opted for one of those marvelously simple one-pot-dinners. They save me from a life of Kraft Dinner on a pretty regular basis these days. A little protein, some starch, and veggies all thrown in a roasting pan with spices and out pops a fragrant and satisfying dinner good enough to serve dinner guests. Doesn’t that just sound like the bees knees? It really is. Let me show you! 

 





Since there are so few ingredients in this dish, try to buy the best quality you can afford. The chorizo should be fresh, the produce and chicken organic, and your wine glass full. Wait. What? There isn’t any wine in this dish, you say? That’s no reason no to have a full glass anyways. You’ve had a long day, I’m sure. 



One-Pot Spanish Chicken and Chorizo with Potatoes and Cauliflower
adapted from Life is Great

I found the hunks of chorizo to be quiet tough to chew on so I’m going to recommend you cut them up a bit smaller so your guests don’t hurt their mouths. No one likes to be beat up by their dinner. 

We served a simple salad of Arugula, Roasted Golden Beets, Toasted Pecans and Piave Vecchio cheese and some crusty bread to sop up the beautiful bright orange sauce on the side. 

8 large bone-in chicken thighs, skin on
1 large piece Chorizo (8-10”), cut into bite sized pieces
1 bag baby potatoes (about 2 1/2 cups)
1/2 head of cauliflower, cut into 2” florets
2 tsp dried oregano
zest or 2 oranges
4 whole cloves of garlic, peeled
1 small red onion, rough chopped
Olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Dry the chicken with a clean towel (or paper towel) and salt on both sides. 

Pour the potatoes into a large roasting or jellyroll pan. Toss in the onions. Nestle the chicken thighs on top and tuck the cauliflower and chorizo around them evenly. Throw in the garlic cloves and sprinkle the oregano and orange zest evenly over everything. Give the whole pan a good drizzle of olive oil. 



Bake for 45-50 minutes or until the chicken is cooked to 170. Spoon onto plates and serve. 

Wasn’t that the easiest? Why don’t you have another glass of wine to celebrate? 

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