AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE

This is a winning combination that I urge you to try whenever you find fresh pomegranates to play with. In our neck of the woods, it’s not always available. I prefer to buy the pomegranate seeds in those little jars because I am not too fond of the work needed to extract them from the fruit. Yes, I am familiar with all the tricks, but in this particular case, I opt for the easy way out.

AIR-FRIED CAULIFLOWER WITH POMEGRANATE SEEDS AND TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower, florets only
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
salt to taste
pomegranate seeds

for the tahini sauce:
1/2 cup tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 cup water to adjust consistency (you may need less)

Coat the cauliflower florets with the oil, season with smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Place in the air-fryer at 390F or as high as your fryer goes. Cook the florets until they start to get brown at the edges, shaking the basket every once in a while. While the cauliflower fries, make the sauce.

Mix all ingredients for the sauce (except the water) in a food processor and process until smooth. It will be very thick. Slowly add the water, until you get to the consistency you like.

Transfer the cauliflower to a serving platter, drizzle the sauce all over and sprinkle pomegranate seeds, as many as your heart desires.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I adore cauliflower and I am crazy for tahini. It was odd that it took me so long to put both together. If you don’t have pomegranate seeds, kalamata olives will work well for the contrast of color and that sharp flavor. A shower of black sesame or Nigella seeds could be great too. Anything to give some contrast to the cauliflower-sauce duet. Because our air-fryer is small, when I made this recipe there were no leftovers. Actually I did have extra sauce that was drizzled on all sorts of goodies for a couple of days. If you want to make this dish for company (or if you do not own an air-fryer), go for oven-roasting, 425F works like a charm. It just takes longer and the texture won’t be as crispy.

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LOW-CARB SUPER FAST CHICKEN PARMIGIANA

Air-fryer to the rescue again… I will give you pretty loose instructions, because how you make it will depend on your carb goals. If you want to do close to zero carbs, omit the bread crumbs. The texture will suffer a bit, but it will still work. If you want to do moderate carbs, use the mixture I did. I am quite surprised by how much I liked the texture of the meat, and the fact that frying the chicken breast on the stove top before baking was not needed at all. A leap of faith was needed for me to try it the first time. I’ve made it three times ever since.

LOW-CARB AIR-FRYED CHICKEN PARMIGIANA
(from The Bewitching Kitchen)

2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless, lightly seasoned with salt
2 eggs, whisked with a teaspoon of water, salt and Herbes de Provence to taste
50:50 mixture of bread crumbs and almond flour
(lower carb alternative 50:50 mixture of almond flour + finely grated Parmigiano cheese)
tomato sauce
mozzarella cheese

Dip the chicken breasts in the seasoned whisked egg mixture, coat both sides with your choice of “breading.” Spray the basket of the air-fryer with a little olive oil. Carefully place the pieces of meat side by side in the basket. Turn the air-fryer to 390F and cook for 10 minutes. If you are using very large breasts, cook for 12 minutes, but the recipe works best with smallish pieces of meat.

Gently flip the meat over, add tomato sauce and cheese. Air-fry for 6 additional minutes. Remove the meat and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: There are three little issues that might annoy you with this method. You know I never lie…

First: if you go real low in carbs, the coating is on the soft side. It will be very hard to flip the chicken piece without losing part of it to the basket. Even with the bread crumbs a little bit is lost. I am not sure if the flipping of the piece is necessary, and intend to try without doing it next time.

Second: it makes a bit of a mess in the basket once the cheese melts. I am a neat-freak and that means I spend quite a bit of time cleaning it up and inspecting every little corner. It still does not prevent me from making it, but keep that in mind and don’t get mad at me…

Third: if you have a smallish air-fryer like I do, you can only do two pieces of chicken at a time. It turns out that when I make this, I do the regular kind (stove-top, fried then baked) for the husband, and this lower-carb version for me. But if you are feeding a family of four, this is not a good option.

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PASTA CHIP BHEL

Can you tell I am in love with this salad?

But first, a disclaimer… This is by no means an authentic bhel. If you are new to the term, bhel is a concoction from India, made with puffed rice and crispy sev noodles. I’ve found this version by complete accident and was so intrigued by it, I could not wait to try it. However, I have modified it substantially so if there was any resemblance with the authentic bhel, it is pretty much all gone… Can we still be friends?

PASTA CHIP BHEL
(adapted from Naturallynidhy)

for pasta chips:
1 cup cooked pasta (I used fusilli)
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tsp black and white sesame seeds
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste

for the salad:
1 cup mixed colors shredded cabbage or store-bought cole slaw mix
1/2 cup matchstick carrots (or shredded in food processor)
1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
fresh cilantro leaves
2 tbsp grapeseed oil
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce (I used Thai Kitchen)
1 tbsp black vinegar (or another vinegar of your choice)
1/2 tsp red chili flakes
juice of 1/2 lime (or to taste)
salt to taste
sesame seeds to serve

Turn the air-fryer to the highest temperature (mine is 390F). Mix the pasta with oil, sesame seeds, salt and pepper. Air-fry for about 10 minutes, until crispy and fragrant. If you don’t have an air-fryer, roast in the oven at 400F for about 15 minutes. Let it cool in a single layer over paper towels.

In a large bowl where you will serve the salad, make the dressing by mixing all oil, soy sauce, red chili sauce, vinegar, and chili flakes. Whisk well, then add a little lime juice, taste, and see if you’d like more lime juice. Add the pasta chips and all other ingredients to the bowl, toss well and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if needed. Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving, or longer in the fridge.

Add cilantro and more sesame seeds right before serving.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Talk about exotic flavors and textures, this salad has it all. I am now quite eager to make the real bhel, so stay tuned for that. One of my modifications was using the pasta more like you would “croutons” in a Caesar salad, just like an accent. I believe that in bhel the pasta is a main component.

All the amounts of veggies are suggestions, and super flexible. Use what you like, add other veggies if you prefer. But the idea is to have a lot of texture, and let the sauce barely smooth things out. The salad is vegan-friendly , but we “corrupted” it with grilled pork tenderloin. If you make the pasta as a main component of the salad, this could well work as a full dinner. One more thing, pay close attention to the air-frying step, and shake that pan often. It is easy to end up with some pasta crisps over-cooked. I am definitely making this or modifications of this version again and again.

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AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA

The abuse of culinary terms is alive and well in the Bewitching Kitchen. Raita with no cucumber? Yes, I am afraid so. Let’s call it raita-ish. At any rate, this is delicious. I used the air-fryer to prepare the eggplant, which is fast and furious. But not overly furious. If you don’t have an air-fryer, just roast the eggplant in the oven until it softens into submission. Inspiration came from Nik Sharma’s The Flavor Equation.

AIR-FRIED EGGPLANT RAITA
(adapted from The Flavor Equation)

1 large eggplant
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt
1 Serrano pepper, de-seeded, minced
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped mint
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup Greek yogurt (adjust according to your preference)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp Nigella seeds
1/2 tsp Aleppo pepper

Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Brush the cut surfaces with the olive oil and arrange them in the air-fryer, cut side up. Air-fry until golden brown and soft, about 25 minutes at 390F (or the highest temperature of your fryer). Remove from the heat, cover with aluminum foil, and let cool completely.

Remove the flesh, place in a bowl and season lightly with salt. Add the Serrano pepper, cilantro, mint, and black pepper. Add the yogurt and lemon juice, and whisk well to combine. If you want it fully smooth, use an immersion blender, but I prefer to have some texture so I just used a spoon. Adjust seasoning with salt.

Make the toasted spices: heat the grapeseed oil over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the mustard and Nigella seeds and fry for 30 to 45 seconds. Remove from the heat. Add the Aleppo pepper and gently mix. Pour the hot oil with the spices over the raita and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: I really love the book The Flavor Equation (Nik Sharma) but this particular recipe, as written, would not work well for my goals. It would make a very loose dip, with a much higher proportion of yogurt, and that’s not exactly what I had in mind. I wanted to enjoy it more as a veggie side-dish to go along a turkey meatloaf (already in the blog and in constant rotation in our kitchen), so I adapted it, as well as a few other minor changes. It ended up working also as a dip, perfect with Ak-Mak crackers.

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ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES AND PEANUT SAUCE

Once again I am following the steps of Joanne. Once again my pictures won’t do justice to how delicious this meal turned out. The peanut sauce is perfectly balanced: salty, sweet, spicy, you will feel like going at it with a spoon, eyes-closed, total bliss.

ZUCCHINI WITH QUICK-PICKLED VEGETABLES IN PEANUT SAUCE
(slightly adapted from Joanne’s blog)

2 medium zucchini, cut into ¼-inch coins
black pepper, to taste
salt to taste
olive oil to lightly coat it (if using air-fryer)

For the quick-pickled veggies
5 oz shredded carrots
1 seedless cucumber, thinly sliced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar

For the peanut sauce
6 tbsp creamy peanut butter
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp lime juice
½ tsp fresh grated ginger
2 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp sweet chili sauce
1 tsp sambal oelek

Pickle the veggies: In a medium bowl, toss together the carrots, cucumber, lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar. Set aside as you prepare the sauce and cook the zucchini.

If using an air-fryer, coat the zucchini with olive oil (you can use a spray can), season lightly with salt and pepper, and air-fry at the highest temperature until done (10 to 12 minutes). Reserve. If using a frying pan, add enough oil for a shallow fry, and cook the zucchini on both sides until golden.

Make the peanut sauce. In a medium bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, ginger, sesame oil, maple syrup, sweet chili sauce, and sambal oelek until well combined.

Serve everything over rice, with a nice drizzle of the peanut sauce.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: You see that plastic bottle with leftover sauce? You will become very fond of it, and start squeezing it on plenty of stuff. Including your fingers, when no one is around to be a witness.

Truly delicious recipe, you can make it as Joanne did, with crispy tofu. I skipped that and confess that we enjoyed it with one of our favorite proteins, grilled pork tenderloin. But it would be perfect for a vegetarian meal without it. Ground peanuts wold be perfect on top, and that’s what I plan to do in the very near future.

Joanne, I need to thank you once again for bringing so many cool recipes into my horizon…
we loved this one!