CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA

Nothing irritates a true vegetarian more than giving names like “steak” to a veggie dish to make it more appealing. My apologies, I have no intention of ruffling feathers, it’s just not as sexy to call it “Cauliflower Slices.” I’ve made a version of it in the past, but this one is so much better that it almost makes me want to go back and delete that post. This is cauliflower steak done to perfection, and I thank my friend Eha for introducing it to me. It will go in our regular rotation. For sure.

CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH OLIVE AND CAPER SALSA
(adapted from Cook Republic)

for the cauliflower:
1 head of cauliflower
3 tablespoons olive oil

for the salsa:
60g pitted green olives
2 tablespoons baby capers, drained
1/2 teaspoon red chilli flakes
chopped fresh parsley to taste
20ml extra virgin olive oil
juice of half a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 325FC. Cover a baking dish with aluminum foil and drizzle with one tablespoon of olive oil. Place the cauliflower on a chopping board, resting on the stalk. Holding the head gently, slice the cauliflower into 5-6 thick slices (each about 1 inch wide).
Place the cauliflower slices on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle the top with remaining olive oil.

Roast for 30 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 425F. Roast for a further 15-20 minutes at this higher temperature till the cauliflower is starting to char and brown nicely. Remove from the oven and set aside.


Place all ingredients for the salsa in a small bowl. Whisk very well. Spoon prepared salsa over the cauliflower steaks. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt flakes, freshly ground black pepper and chopped parsley.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

 

Comments: My only modification to the recipe was to reduce the amount of olive oil in the salsa and add lemon juice. For my taste, the olives add enough luscious fat, and the salsa tasted lighter and “brighter” with less oil and some extra acidity. Go with what rocks your own boat. Your kitchen, your rules.

What is wonderful about this recipe is the method to roast it. Lower temperature first, don’t mess with it, allow it to cook at a slow pace. Then increase the temperature and take it as far as you like. The salsa, cold and tangy, on top of that perfectly cooked slice of cauliflower? Perfection on a plate. I urge you to give this a try.

Eha, thanks so much for introducing me to this recipe in particular,
and to Cook Republic. I am following…

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FROM MY HUSBAND TO YOU: ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY

Some veggies are so delicious that I tend to do as little as possible to prepare them, so they can shine on their own. But the other day the husband pulled an amazing dinner for us and the side dish blew my mind. Asparagus stir-fry that packed a ton of flavor and made us feel as if we were dining in a cool restaurant in Los Angeles. Just like we did during our sabbatical at UCLA years ago (it does feel like a previous life).  I insisted he should write a guest blog post about it, but he is quite busy wrapping up a review article, and food blogging is definitely not a distraction he needs. So, I did the altruistic, sensible thing, and composed the post myself. Because if you also have a soft spot for asparagus, you need this in your life…

ASPARAGUS STIR-FRY
(adapted from The Washington Post)

1 medium jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon soy sauce
3 tablespoons lemon juice,  divided
Zest of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems
toasted sesame seeds

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the jalapeno and olive oil, saute for a couple of minutes, until fragrant.  Add the asparagus. Sprinkle lightly with salt and cook, tossing occasionally, until the asparagus begins to brown around the edges, a couple of minutes more.

Add the soy sauce and 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and cook, stirring constantly, until the asparagus is coated in sauce, but still firm, about 1 minute.

Add the lemon zest, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice and the ginger. Toss to combine and cook, continuing to toss for 1 minute, or until ginger is fragrant. Remove the pan from heat. Transfer the asparagus to a platter and toss with cilantro and sesame seeds. Serve right away, perfect with grilled salmon.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Looking at our served meal, you could conclude we love sesame seeds. And you would be 100% correct. They do go well with salmon and perfect with asparagus. This is a very simple and quick dish to put together, and would complement many main dishes, from beef to poultry.  Serve these asparagus over polenta and you can call it a great, satisfying vegan meal…

I have to say I am pretty lucky to have a partner who cooks dinner for us every other day. I love to cook, but it would get a bit tiring to do it every single evening.  We have different styles, I am always trying new recipes, whereas he tends to stick to his favorites. But every once in a while he finds a recipe and jumps on it. Like this one. It was a fabulous meal…

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PICKLED-ROASTED CHICKPEAS WITH CASHEW CREAM

I share with you today another slightly unusual side dish, or main dish if you add to it a nice helping of couscous. It starts with chickpeas simmered in white vinegar, then roasted with smoked paprika. After pairing them with juicy tomatoes, the whole thing was dressed with the number one choice for vegans when they crave sauces like bechamel: cashew cream.  It has the advantage of being very low in saturated fat, so those who are watching their intake of all things butter and cheese, can indulge without worries.

PICKLED-ROASTED CHICKPEAS WITH CASHEW CREAM
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 cups white vinegar
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp smoked paprika or to taste
fresh tomatoes, cut into slices or small pieces
cilantro leaves (optional)

for the cashew cream:
1 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours to overnight in a large volume of cold water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
salt to taste
1 cup water

Heat oven to 420F.

Bring the vinegar with a pinch of salt to a boil in a sauce pan. Immediately add the chickpeas, boil for 30 seconds, close the pan and remove from heat. Leave the chickpeas in the hot vinegar for 20 minutes. Drain.

Place the drained chickpeas in a roasting pan covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil, season with salt and smoked paprika, rubbing them gently to coat well. Roast for about 25 minutes, until dark golden.  Remove them to a paper towel lined plate to cool.

Make the cashew cream. Place the drained cashews with lemon juice and salt into a Vitamix type blender, blend until almost smooth (it won’t turn completely smooth until you add water). Add the water slowly with the motor running. Add as much water as you like to achieve a smooth, creamy consistency.

Assemble the dish: place tomatoes on a serving platter, season lightly with salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Spoon the roasted, cold chickpeas on top, and drizzle with the cashew cream. Decorate with cilantro leaves if desired.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: If you love pickled things, you will enjoy this take on chickpeas. If you are not too fond of the sharp taste of vinegar, simply skip that step and roast the chickpeas without simmering first. They will still be delicious, and complement the tomatoes well.

The cashew cream. This is a simpler version of one I made a few years ago.  I actually made a double batch and enjoyed it over smoked chicken fajitas, drizzled over roasted butternut squash, and replacing cheese on eggplant Parmigiana. The secret is to soak the cashews for several hours. You can speed up the process by using boiling water and letting them sit for 30 minutes or so, but I find that the taste is brighter and the texture better if you take the longer route. Next on my list is to use cashews as a base for “buttercream” in macaron filling. Perhaps with matcha flavor. Stay tuned.

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ROASTED GREEN BEANS AND TOMATOES WITH TAHINI SAUCE

When you need a side dish to impress, consider this one. Two simple veggies (contrasting colors is a must), joined with a delicious tahini-based sauce. Tahini, that component that makes so many recipes shine, does a great job here!

ZA’TAR ROASTED GREEN BEANS AND TOMATOES WITH TAHINI SAUCE
(from the Bewitching Kitchen, inspired by many sources)

Cherry tomatoes (red or a mixture of colors)
Green beans, trimmed
about 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 tsp za’tar (or to taste)
salt and pepper

for the sauce:
¼ cup tahini
juice and zest of 1 lemon
about 1/4 cup water (amount will vary according to your tahini)
drizzle of honey

to serve:
toasted sesame seeds

Heat the oven to 400°F. Coat the tomatoes with one tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt, pepper, and a sprinkle of za’tar. Place the tomatoes in a baking sheet in a single layer, large enough to hold them and the green beans later. Roast for 10 minutes. 

Meanwhile, coat the green beans with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the remaining za’atar, salt and pepper to taste. Add to the tomatoes after they have been in the oven for 10 minutes. Roast all veggies together until the green beans are starting to brown (12 minutes or so longer).  As they roast, make the sauce by mixing all the ingredients in a small bowl, adjusting the amount of water to make it a nice drizzling consistency.

Transfer the roasted veggies to a serving platter, add the sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve right away.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: Amounts are quite flexible for everything in this recipe, and I suggest you try the tahini sauce as you make it. Different brands, and also how well you are able to mix the tahini before measuring will have a big impact on the outcome. For my taste, lemon juice should be added with a heavy hand, but then a touch of honey mellows it beautifully. I almost added pomegranate molasses, but left that for a next adventure. When I brought it to the table,  I heard a “oh, wow!” from the husband. And as we enjoyed it with juicy chicken legs, life seemed almost normal. Which is as nice a feeling as one can have these days.

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CAULIFLOWER FOR COMPANY? YES, PLEASE!

Let’s imagine for a moment that dinner parties are still “a thing.”  Those days feel like a lifetime away, but I know they will come back at some point. When? I have no idea. But when they do, allow me to offer a recipe for mashed cauliflower as your side dish. I promise you, this one will please every single one of your guests, even those who twist the nose at anything low-carb. The secret is topping the mash with roasted grape tomatoes (you can use yellow or a mixture).  It turns into a luscious, satisfying, flavorful side dish that will go well with pretty much any protein you are featuring as the star of your show.

MASHED CAULIFLOWER WITH ROASTED GRAPE TOMATOES
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)

1 large head of cauliflower
squirt of lemon juice
salt to taste
1/3 cup yogurt (low-fat is ok)
drizzle of olive oil
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast (or grated parmigiano-reggiano to taste)
smoked paprika to taste
grape tomatoes (yellow or red)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Start by roasting the tomatoes. Place them as a single layer on a baking dish covered with aluminum foil. Drizzle the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 F until they start to get golden brown and release some juices. Reserve.

Cut the cauliflower in florets and cook in slightly salted boiling water with a bit of lemon juice until fork-tender.  Add to a food processor (ok if a bit of water goes with it), and add the yogurt, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and spices. Process until smooth, taste and adjust seasoning, or even a bit more lemon juice if you like. Transfer to a baking dish. Top with the roasted tomatoes, but don’t add too much of the tomato liquid, just a little bit.

Place in the 400 F oven for about 10 minutes to warm everything together. If the mashed cauliflower is looking more on the dry side, you can warm up covered with foil. If it seems a bit loose, warm it with no foil on top.

Serve right away with the main dish of your choice.

ENJOY!

to print the recipe, click here

Comments: This was one delicious meal! The pork tenderloin is very similar to the one I shared recently, made in our smoker, with a bit less pepper. A little avocado and orange on the side, and we were ready to dig in. Felt like a dinner party…

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