Two important things happened to me recently: One, I met the love of my life. Two, I decided that I like cauliflower. Now, there’s no going back.
I was sitting at the dog park by my apartment yesterday afternoon and a little cocker spaniel ran up to me and started licking my face and biting my nose. Then, he wouldn’t leave my side. His owner came over and said that he’s never that affectionate with anyone. It was love at first sight.
The dog (whose name is Blue) laid on my lap while I talked to his owner, Tim. Tim and his wife live in the neighborhood next to the park, and we talked about some of the local restaurants and France (because that always comes out within the first 5 minutes of my conversation with anyone). I hope I run into them both again soon.
In other news, I made a salad and realized that cauliflower is really, really good. I used to hate it when I was little because I thought it was bland and tasteless. When it’s steamed or raw, it kind of is.
But it’s not bland in this salad. I sautéed it in olive oil and then seasoned it with salt and pepper, and tossed it with lemon juice. It was citrusy, fresh and slightly smoky, and paired well with the sweet nectarine, avocado and tart mint.
Also, this dukkah…don’t even get me started. The blogger who made this recipe said that you would want to eat it with a spoon, and I had my doubts. I was wrong. I could eat the whole tupperware container right now, but I’m holding myself back. I’m going to use the leftovers on toast later this week.
ANYWAY. The moral of this story is that you never know when amazing things are going to happen to you. And that most foods, including cauliflower, can taste good if you cook them the right way.
This song has been popping up on my playlist a lot lately. Every time it comes on I start laughing because the lyrics are so clever.
Cauliflower Dukkah Salad (from The First Mess)
for the dukkah:
2 cups roasted & salted pistachios, shells removed (you should have about ¾ cup of nuts total)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, toasted
1 tablespoon cumin seeds, toasted
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1 teaspoon nigella seeds (optional)
½ teaspoon chili flakes (optional)
for the salad:
1 tablespoon olive oil (I used a garlic olive oil, but that’s optional)
1 head of cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets
Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
juice of ½ a lemon, about 1 tablespoon
1-2 nectarines, pitted and sliced
1 small, ripe avocado, peeled and chopped
1 hearty sprig of mint, leaves thinly sliced
big handful of the dukkah
Make the dukkah: grind the shelled pistachios in either a mortar and pestle, a food processor, or a dry-blade blender pitcher. You want a chunky/chopped consistency with a few large bits of pistachio in the mix. Transfer the ground pistachios to a medium bowl. Grind the coriander and cumin seeds in a spice grinder and add them to the bowl with the pistachios. Add the sesame seeds, nigella seeds and chili flakes to the bowl as well. Stir to combine. Store dukkah in a sealable jar and set aside.
Make the cauliflower salad: heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil to the skillet. Add the cauliflower florets and spread them out in an even layer. Let the cauliflower florets sear for a good two minutes. Stir the cauliflower up and season it with salt and pepper. Cook until the cauliflower is just tender and evenly browned. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter. Top the cauliflower with the sliced nectarines, avocado, mint, and a hearty handful of the dukkah. Serve the cauliflower salad immediately.