ROASTED VEGGIES WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING

roasted-veggies-with-cotija

I hope it’s not a faux-pas to blog about too many takes on roasted veggies. Is anyone keeping track, though?  But I cannot help it, not only the weather is perfect for turning the oven on, but roasted veggies go well with pretty much any main dish, from beef to seafood, and if you like to go vegetarian, they can be the star of the show.  I saw this recipe featured in a PBS cooking show that is new to me, Pati’s Mexican Table. Like Marcela Valladolid, Pati cooks Mexican food, but with a more down to earth demeanor. She has an adorable accent, and that friendly aura that captivates the viewer right away. Anyway, this is such a simple recipe, you can memorize it in a second (quiz to follow) : equal parts of orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil. Salt and pepper. You are done. Then, there’s the Cotija dressing, but no quiz on that one, because I am a kind teacher, and want you to get an A+.

roastedveggies

 

ROASTED BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER WITH QUESO COTIJA DRESSING
(adapted from Pati’s Mexican Table)

for the veggies:
1/4
 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil plus more for brushing
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium head of broccoli cut into 1/4″ vertical slices
1 medium head of cauliflower cut into 1/4″ vertical slices

for the dressing:
1/2 cup crumbled queso Cotija
1/2 cup Mexican crema
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoons sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons water
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. 

Mix the lime juice, orange juice, olive oil, salt and freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl. Whisk very well to combine.

Brush 2 large baking sheets with olive oil. Place the broccoli and cauliflower on each baking sheet, making sure that it is well spread out and not crowded. Evenly pour the orange juice mixture all over the vegetables.  Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once in between, until well roasted and considerably charred. Remove from the oven. 

While the veggies are roasting, combine in the jar of a blender the queso cotija, Mexican crema, vegetable oil, sherry vinegar, water, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth, adjust with water if desired. 

Serve the broccoli and cauliflower and ladle the queso cotija right on top, or pass the sauce at the table so that everyone can add as much as they want. 

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

composite

 

Comments: What made me want to try this recipe was the unusual way to slice the veggies. Vertically, including the stems. Essentially no waste, and they look so cute laying flat on the baking sheet. That also gives a nice amount of char all over, which means a ton of flavor. The citric component gets intensified by reduction, the veggies tender but still retaining some bite.  The Cotija dressing is super flavorful. The recipe makes more than needed for a light drizzle all over the veggies. Leftover keeps quite well in the fridge and next day you can drizzle over avocados, tomatoes, or even some grilled meat.

Speaking of grilled meat, we paired these saucy grilled veggies with grilled pork tenderloin, for a delicious, quick and easy dinner.

served

Life is good…

and now for the quiz. What do we add to the veggies before roasting them at 475 F?
No cheating!
😉

Note to self: adapt this recipe for the steam-roasting technique from Fine Cooking. Maybe using just the florets will work better in that case. Worth playing with, that’s for sure.

roasted-veggies-with-cotija-dressing-from-bewitching-kitchen

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ONE YEAR AGO: Creamy Broccoli and Mushroom Casserole

TWO YEARS AGO: Maple Walnut Biscotti

THREE YEARS AGO: Barley Risotto with Peas

FOUR YEARS AGO: Oatmeal Fudge Bars

FIVE YEARS AGO: Cauliflower Steaks

SIX YEARS AGO: Soft Spot for Chevre

SEVEN YEARS AGO: Quick sun-dried Tomato Crostini

WHEN THREE IS BETTER THAN TWO

Am I talking about the dogs again?
No, this time it’s a veggie thing…

triple

As far as vegetable purees are concerned I tend to be very conservative to allow the main ingredient to shine in all its glory. Yes, I’ve been known to mix two veggies together, for instance Broccoli & Spinach,  Carrot & Sweet Potato , or Cauliflower and Celeriac, but those are exceptions rather than the rule. However, the other day I was staring at the bag of parsnips I got with the intention of roasting them and faced a disappointing state of affairs. You’d think that those bagged creatures would all be more or less similar in size and shape? Don’t get your hopes high! They place one or two gorgeous specimens with a bunch of pencil-thin cousins. Pathetic.  I learned a lesson, of course, will never buy bagged parsnips again. I’ll pick them myself, thank you very much, and they will be all chubby.  But, I digress. I was staring at the parsnips and decided that they could work better in a puree of sorts. Since I did not have enough for a side dish, I also grabbed some carrots. And then, the tiny orange cauliflower winked at me.  So there you have it, not one, not two, but three veggies cooked together in harmony. I must tell you, this turned out much better than I expected, especially considering I kept it very simple. No exotic spices, no garlic confit, not even chicken stock… I let the veggies sing, and the music was gorgeous!

ParsnipCarrotMash

PARSNIP, CARROT AND CAULIFLOWER MASH
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 tablespoon butter + smear of olive oil
3 celery stalks, diced
1 small head of orange cauliflower, florets only
5 parsnips, cut in chunks
4 carrots, cut in chunks
salt and pepper (go heavy on the pepper)
2 cups water

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan, add the diced celery, season lightly with salt and pepper and cook until translucent and fragrant. Add all the other veggies and cook in medium-high heat stirring occasionally for a few minutes. If necessary, add a tiny amount of olive oil to prevent the veggies from scorching.

Add the two cups of water, season with salt and pepper again, and cover the pan. Simmer for 25 minutes in low-heat. When veggies are tender, remove them to a food processor, leaving most of the water behind. Process and add more water if too thick.  Adjust seasoning, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

ingredients
Comments:
We were both quite impressed by how complex this puree tasted.  I think parsnips adds a lot with their distinctive taste: spicy, peppery, a bit citric almost. They change completely the flavor of the carrots and cauliflower. This mash has great texture and just the right amount of sweetness. Plus, the color is not too shabby either… When processing, don’t go overboard, I think having some chunks here and there add a lot to the dish. You might even skip the processing and mash it all by hand, whatever rocks your boat…

served

Dinner is served!  Simple grille chicken breasts, mashed veggies, and a salad.
Very delicious way to end a busy Monday.

 

ONE  YEAR AGO: Mini-quiches with Duxelles and Baby Broccoli

TWO YEARS AGO: Quinoa and Sweet Potato Cakes

THREE YEARS AGO: Pumpkin Bolo de Fuba’ Cremoso

FOUR YEARS AGO: Citrus-crusted Tilapia Filets

FIVE YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, not just for Hippies

SIX YEARS AGO: Flourless Chocolate Cake

 

 

 

SOMEBODY STOP ME!

I simply cannot help it. I’m about to share yet another recipe for cauliflower-in-disguise. But, believe me, this one will change your life. Have I ever promised to change your life with a recipe? No. So trust me, because I never lie. Cross my heart, etc etc. The whole thing starts as 99% of the cauli-rice recipes do: process the florets into bits.  But then, the twist: instead of boiling or simmering it, you will roast the riced cauliflower. Yes, straight into the oven with a delicate coating of coconut oil. And here I am, salivating just by the thought of how great this recipe turns out. Every. Single. Time Perfection, my friends. Perfection. I am so in love with cauliflower that Phil could be a bit jealous of it.

Cauli-Rice with Asparagus and Almonds

BAKED CAULI-RICE WITH ASPARAGUS AND ALMONDS
(adapted  from  The Clothes Make the Girl)

1 head of cauliflower, any color you like
1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted
3/4 teaspoon of salt
ground black pepper to taste
sautéed asparagus
toasted slivered almonds

You will basically process the cauliflower into bits, then roast it with the coconut oil in a 425 F oven. For all the details of the recipe, click here

Meanwhile, prepare your asparagus using any favorite recipe and mixture of spices. Toast some almonds lightly seasoned with salt.  When the cauli-rice is baked, transfer it to a serving bowl, top with the asparagus and almonds, and serve right away.

ENJOY!

composite

Comments:  The difference this method makes in the final product is hard to imagine. The cauli-rice gets all loose and with the exact amount of moisture, not soupy and lifeless. The coconut oil will be barely noticeable. I suspect that even if you don’t care for its taste in this preparation you won’t object. Perfect marriage.

You can take this dish into so many different directions: make it Mexican with the right mixture of spices, add a nice home-made salsa on top. Make it Indian with a curry blend, make it Italian, Brazilian, Korean, it is truly a superb blank canvas to work on.

I’ve made it several times so far, and also used a yellow-orange cauliflower for a show-stopper of a side-dish. I love it. Love it. Period.  Here it is, next to a roasted chicken leg made with a marinade that included a certain ginger syrup of my past.

CauliRiceOrange
I say goodbye with the firm intention of not blogging on cauliflower for at least a week!. I’ve got will power, I’ll nail this. Although….

ArtichokeFlirt11

ONE YEAR AGO: Zucchini Pasta with Cilantro-Cashew Pesto

TWO YEARS AGO: Bran Muffins, Take Two

THREE YEARS AGO: Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

FOUR YEARS AGO: Mogo Mojo

FIVE YEARS AGO: Slow-Roasted Chicken Thighs: an Ice-Breaker

 

 

A NEW TAKE ON CAULIFLOWER PUREE

Regular readers of my blog will likely say to themselves – there she comes AGAIN, with yet another recipe for mashed cauliflower.  When is she going to stop?  Probably not in the near future, because I keep finding interesting ways to enjoy one of my favorite side dishes. This version turned out pretty tasty,  so I must share with you, magnanimous person that I am. I got the idea from a post over at  Closet Cooking, and made a few changes to use what I had around in the fridge.  The spinach adds a lot in terms of flavor and nutrients.  This one will definitely be a regular appearance at our table.

Cauliflower Puree

 

CAULIFLOWER-SPINACH PUREE
(modified from Closet Cooking)

1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces spinach
squeeze of lemon juice (1 or 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup Greek yogurt, full-fat if you can find it (good luck!)
freshly ground nutmeg
almond milk to taste
salt and pepper
fresh chives, minced

Place the cauliflower in a steamer over boiling water and steam until fork tender, about 10 minutes. While the cauliflower cooks, sautée the fresh spinach in olive oil until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, add a little lemon juice and reserve.  Place the cooked cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor.  Add the feta cheese, yogurt, nutmeg, salt and  pepper, and process until well combined.  Add the reserved spinach, process for a few seconds.  If too thick add almond milk until you reach the right consistency.   The puree can  be warmed up for a minute in the microwave if the cold ingredients added to it cooled it down too much, but probably it will not be necessary.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

I loved this take on cauliflower puree so much that I made it again the following week,  using kale instead of spinach, and adding a little bit of sun-dried tomato to the mix.  It turned out almost great, but not quite.  A few details that I should have paid more attention to compromised the quality of the dish. I used chopped kale, pre-bagged, thinking it would make my life a lot easier. Well, it did, but it didn’t.  In the bagged version, the stems are chopped together with the leaves, so because I cooked them very little to preserve that nice bright green color, the stems were a bit tough.  Not pleasant in the middle of the smooth cauliflower puree.  So, my advice is to either go for spinach, or if you like the assertive taste of  kale, buy the leaves, and chop them. If the food police is not around, you can discard the stems, but if you have guilty feelings about it, cook the kale in two steps, stems first, leaves at the end.

This is such a nice side dish, it goes well with almost anything, from seafood to beef, and leftovers keep well in the fridge.  I bet they could be wonderful made into little fritters, adding an egg, maybe a bit of almond flour. This spinach version I shared today we enjoyed a while ago with Chicken Thighs with Roasted Tomato Salsa. The kale variation was matched with another interesting recipe from Cooking Light magazine, which I shall blog about in the near future: a Cremini Mushroom Meatloaf, which is actually a lot more mushroom than meat. Great recipe, stay tuned…   😉

ONE YEAR AGO: In My (NEW!) Kitchen

TWO YEARS AGO: The Lab Move and New Beginnings

THREE YEARS AGO: Honey-Oat Pain de Mie

FOUR YEARS AGO: Carrot and Leek Soup

FIVE YEARS AGO: Chicken Parmigiana 101

 

THE COUSCOUS THAT WASN’T

I am quite slow when it comes to following cooking trends. Chia seeds? Haven’t used them yet, although I do own a bag and lovingly glance at it from time to time. Then, there is cauliflower in its unexpected uses, like the super popular pizza crust and processed versions that mimic rice.  The only non-traditional preparation I embraced long ago was mashed cauliflower for a low-carb take on mashed potatoes. It turns out I am so fond of it, that the real thing almost never finds its way into our kitchen. It is a bit puzzling that I ignored all other “out-there” uses for cauliflower. Better late than never, I now profess my newest found love: cauli-couscous.  Please, if you haven’t tried it yet, do not twist your nose at it. The tiny bits of cauliflower end up with a texture very similar to its semolina cousin, and seem to absorb flavors even more efficiently.  A very versatile dish, you can take it in many different directions by changing the veggies, the spices, herbs, and the cooking liquid. Just as you would with… couscous!  😉

CauliCouscous
MEDITERRANEAN STYLE CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS

(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil + drizzle for chickpeas
1 can of chickpeas, drained and well rinsed
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided (1/4 + 1/2 tsp)
pinch of cayenne pepper
juice of 1 lemon mixed with 1/4 cup water
8 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 English cucumber, diced
1/4 cup slivered almonds, toasted
fresh parsley, minced (to taste)

Prepare the chickpeas: Warm a dry skillet over medium-high heat and toss chickpeas in warmed skillet for about two minutes to remove any residual moisture. Be sure to shake the pan and/or stir the chickpeas. Sprinkle the chickpeas with cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper.  Drizzle a little grapeseed oil over the seasoned chickpeas and toss to combine. Keep stirring the chickpeas and adjust seasonings as desired. When the chickpeas are well saturated with flavor, remove from heat and reserve.

Place the cauliflower florets in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower reaches the desired consistency, not too fine, not too coarse.  You will need to stop the processor a few times and move the large pieces around.  Transfer to a bowl, and marvel at how beautiful your fake couscous looks.

Heat 1 Tablespoon of grapeseed oil,  add the cauliflower, and saute until it starts to get some color. Add the water and lemon juice, cover the pan and simmer just for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, cucumber, almonds, adjust seasoning with salt. Add the reserved chickpeas, toss gently to combine using low heat. Remove from heat, add the fresh parsley, and serve.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 I was surprised by the amount of “couscous” the single head of cauliflower produced. Isn’t that beautiful?

RicedCauliflower

Once more I used the skillet dried chickpeas “invented” by Kelly, from Inspired Edibles. I did not want them to get soggy, so they were added in the final moments of cooking, right before serving. Still, even next day after a brief torture in the microwave, the chickpeas were very tasty.  Maybe  a little less crunchy, but nothing to be disappointed at.

On a side note, whenever I say “invented” I think about one of Seinfeld’s classic episodes… Merlot? Never heard of it. Did they just invent it?”  😉

ingredients

I decided to call this recipe “Mediterranean” because it does have a lot of the usual suspects in that style of cooking. Plus, Mediterranean has a nice gastronomic reputation. Everybody loves it.  😉

Before I leave you, I’d like to share a list of very creative uses for cauliflower, some will surprise you, I am sure. Did you know you can use it for a fake bechamel-style sauce?  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg…

For the basic crust: The Best Cauliflower Pizza Crust, from Lucky Penny Blog

For a gorgeous example of the cauli-pizza:  Roasted Pear and Caramelized Onion Pizza, from Inspired Edibles

Cauliflower Crust Calzone, from The Iron You

Cauliflower Crust Stromboli, from The Iron You

Paleo Moussaka, from The Iron You (Mike, aka Cauliflower Overlord, is a cauliflower magician, and in this post he uses it in a very interesting bechamel type sauce)

Cauliflower Fried Rice, from Skinnytaste

Spicy Buffalo Cauliflower “Wings”, from Inspired Edibles

Cauliflower Pancakes, from Healthy Recipes

Cauliflower Gnocchi, from The Food in my Beard

Ricotta and Cauliflower Gnocchi, from Divalicious Recipes in the City

Cauliflower Pesto, from Vintage Cooking Notes, tried and loved by yours truly

 and if you thought sweets are off-limits, think again 

Cauliflower and Chocolate Ice Lollies with Pistachio Dust, from Veggie Desserts

Cauliflower Chocolate Cake, from Divalicious Recipes in the City

Chocolate Chip Banana Cauliflower Muffin, from Once Upon a Gourmet Gin

 I hope I convinced  you to give cauliflower couscous a try, I am definitely in the mood for a cauliflower pizza crust, just for the fun of it…

ONE  YEAR AGO: Tlayuda, a Mexican Pizza

TWO YEARS AGO: Paradise Revisited

THREE YEARS AGO: Feijoada, the Ultimate Brazilian Feast

FOUR YEARS AGO: Vegetable Milhojas

FIVE YEARS AGO: Italian Bread

ROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES WITH MISO-LIME DRESSING

Long name for a great side dish that might turn into a full meal if coupled with goodies such as barley, couscous, quinoa, or a nice helping of soft-cooked polenta…  Once more the inspiration to make this recipe came from Fer’s site, Chucrute com Salsicha. She always shares interesting recipes that take ingredients through some unusual path.  I love it!

Roasted Vegetables with Miso-Lime GlazeROASTED WINTER VEGETABLES WITH MISO-LIME DRESSING
(adapted from Chucrute com Salsicha,  originally published in The Kitchn)

8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved lengthwise
1 medium sweet potato, peeled, cut in 1/2-inch cubes
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil (I needed to use a little more)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 teaspoons yellow miso paste
2 tablespoons walnut oil
Black pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place sweet potato and cauliflower pieces on a large bowl. Place Brussels sprouts in a separate bowl. Drizzle all veggies with olive oil,  sprinkle with salt and toss to thoroughly coat. Add the sweet potato and cauliflower to a baking sheet and roast, moving them every once in a while.  Total roasting time for sweet potato and cauliflower will be about 25 minutes.  After they have been in the oven for 10 minutes, add the Brussels sprouts.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl whisk together the lime juice and miso paste until smooth. Slowly drizzle in the walnut oil, whisking constantly, until thoroughly combined.

Place the roasted vegetables in a large bowl, pour in the dressing and toss to coat. Adjust seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you visit TheKitchn for the original recipe, you will notice they recommend using three baking trays, but Fer, in her version, simplified quite a bit, and I did the same.  One large baking sheet was more than enough to handle all the veggies, just add them in the order they cook, Brussels sprouts going last.  Other than that, the recipe was followed closely enough.

CloseUpRoasted

Miso and lime might become my favorite flavor combo for this year, the miso is sweet and funky, the lime is the life of the party, and if you ask me, a mandatory guest when Brussels sprouts are around.  Fer served her veggies with barley, I went with Israeli couscous.  But being the omnivores we are, this super delicious side dish was paired with (vegetarians, close your eyes now) grilled flank steak.  A great dinner! Leftovers were amazing for lunch next day, by the way.

Served1

ONE YEAR AGO: 2012 Fitness Report: P90X2

TWO YEARS AGO: Caramelized Bananas

THREE YEARS AGO: Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette

FOUR YEARS AGO: Whole Wheat Bread

SILKY CAULIFLOWER PUREE WITH ALMOND MILK

I am not sure why it took me so long to try almond milk, but  I fell in love with it the moment I tasted it.  This one is my favorite, the plain and lighter version made by Silk.   It is part of my daily routine now, half a glass of almond milk right before going to work, and another half after lunch.  Shockingly cold is best, by the way.   Phil used it in his lunch smoothies in place of  yogurt and loved it too. My passion for almond milk started me on a virtual expedition in the internet chasing for recipes using it in cooking.   I was pleasantly surprised to find quite an extensive number of possibilities.  My first adventure with Silk was a winner:  cauliflower puree.  I share with you the recipe,  inspired by Food and Wine.

AlmondCauliPuree1

SILKY CAULIFLOWER PUREE WITH ALMOND MILK
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 medium-sized head of cauliflower
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 celery stalk, diced
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 shallot, diced
Half gallon Light Almond Milk (or slightly less)
salt and pepper

Prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves and the central core.  Cut the florets off, slicing the large ones in two or three pieces.

Heat the oil on a skillet. Saute the celery, onion, and red bell pepper until the onion is golden, and the mixture is very fragrant. Season with a little salt and black pepper.   Add the cauliflower to the skillet and cook it on high heat for a couple of minutes, stirring often.  Transfer the mixture to a saucepan so that the cauliflower fill it no more than halfway up.   Add almond milk to the saucepan and bring the mixture to a boil.   Reduce the heat, cover the pan keeping the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender.

Transfer the cooked cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor, keeping the almond milk in the pan.  No need to drain it completely, the amount of liquid that stick to the florets will help ensure a nice texture.   Process until smooth.  If necessary, add a little more warm almond milk.   Test for seasoning.   Serve warm.

ENJOY!


to print the recipe, click here

As I said, my first adventure with almond milk in cooking won’t be the last. In fact, I have this recipe on my “to try soon” folder, and hope I can actually switch it into the “tried and true”  in the near future.  One store in town normally carries Marcona almonds, which is the only tricky ingredient to find. With that in hand, I should be good to go.

Probably because I used light almond milk instead of full fat, the liquid seemed to separate a little as the cauliflower cooked. It definitely did not harm the dish, so if you use the light version, ignore its looks.  It will all come together in a silky happy ending!

dinner

Our dinner felt quite special, considering it took place at the height of our kitchen renovation. Here is the full menu for that evening:  roasted chicken thighs marinated in beer-soy-orange (marinade to be blogged about soon), green beans with almonds, and the cauliflower puree.  Mr. Hamilton roasted the chicken thighs, Mr. Breville broiled the skin for a couple of minutes, and our single burner induction stove took care of the rest.  A few sautéed almonds on top of the puree tied both side dishes together quite nicely… even if I say so myself…   😉

plate

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THREE YEARS AGO:
Popeye-Pleasing Salad
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