Cauliflower, baby spinach, hazelnuts and at least a couple of different kinds of cheese are among the ingredients that I always have at hand in the refrigerator.
With the caulis, I love making cauliflower mash and cauliflower cheese (my grown up son's favourite food at present); as well as my mother's recipe for karfiolleves (cauliflower soup), which is among the treasured Magyar dishes to be featured in my upcoming book (news on that soon).
The lightly roasted hazelnuts, which I buy in bulk from Fourjay Farms on the NSW Central Tablelands, go straight into the freezer for long keeping. These I use in everything from my raspberry Dutch baby pancake, to chocolate hazelnut wholemeal brownies, choc-hazelnut frozen banana pops, and Gwent hazelnut cake - among other good things.
The baby spinach (and cheese, which is also kept in the freezer) are used in dishes such as my spinach and zucchini frittata, which appears regularly on the menu when our garden is flush with zucchinis. I also adore making this angel hair pasta with (canned) salmon, ricotta and baby spinach.
More recently, I have been lightly roasting cauliflower florets and using them in a range of salads. I have tried them in a salad with quinoa and chick peas; as well as one with lentils and dates. There is a hint of the Middle East in these dishes - a style of cooking perfected and showcased by esteemed chef and cookbook author, Yotam Ottolenghi.
The recipe I'm sharing in this article is my adaptation of an Ottolenghi recipe from his superb book, Plenty More, which was published in 2014 by Random House. Long time readers may recall that I gave away a signed copy of the book.
In recreating the recipe, I chose to use a delicate extra virgin olive oil instead of rapeseed oil, and steered away from the Dijon mustard and sherry vinegar (both of which my Peter dislikes intensely). I added a squeeze of lemon juice from my home grown Meyer lemons and set the salad on a bed of fresh baby spinach. I also opted for shredded cheese instead of creamy crumbled cheddar, because that's what I had in the fridge.
The best thing about this salad is that it can be served as a main course. My Peter absolutely loved it. Indeed. he devoured every last skerrick. It's no wonder that Ottolenghi's friend and fellow chef, Sami Tamimi, tweeted after enjoying the dish at NoMad that he had 'just eaten one of the best meals of [his] life'.
ROASTED CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH HAZELNUTS, GRAPES AND BABY SPINACH
1 head of cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
80mls delicate extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tablespoons lemon juice*
1-2 teaspoons honey* (*or try some pomegranate molasses instead)
1-2 handfuls fresh baby spinach leaves, washed, patted dry
1 tablespoon raisins
40g light toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed (use a mortar and pestle)
100g red seedless grapes, sliced in half
80g shredded cheddar cheese
20g fresh parsley sprigs
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C. Line a baking tray with parchment.
Place the cauliflower florets into a bowl and drizzle over about half of the olive oil and season with the sea salt and pepper. Arrange the florets on the lined baking tray and roast for about 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove the tray from the oven and allow the cauliflower to cool.
Meanwhile, combine the remaining olive oil with the lemon juice and honey. Whisk until well mixed.
Arrange the baby spinach leaves in a serving bowl, followed by the roasted cauliflower florets, raisins, hazelnuts, grapes, cheese and parsley. Pour over the dressing and season to taste with a little sea salt and pepper, if desired. Serves 4.
Over to you, dearest readers. What ingredients are always in your refrigerator? Do you enjoy cauliflower? Have you ever tried roasting it?
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I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.