Cauliflower Tabouli

Cauliflower Tabouli

Gabe recently suggested we come up with some sort of rating system for our dinners. Not as a way of judging my successes and failures in the kitchen but rather to celebrate the rare times when everyone cleans their plate. Because it is just that; rare.

Each member of the family represents a star or point so if everyone liked the meal we could say it’s a five-star meal. Bonus points for healthy recipes because you know, it’s not too hard to please everyone with pizza – actually even that is a battle (unless it’s the White Pie with Bacon at Delancey – we all agree on our love for that pizza).

Five-star meals are few and far between in our family. Maybe yours too? This person over here doesn’t like onions (and just like that there goes about 90% of what I cook), over here we have the self-proclaimed picky eater who will painstakingly pick out anything green, and this one will not like it unless it’s candy coated or a bowl of rice and beans. Gabe, fortunately is easy to please or he just keeps quiet. Either way I’m okay with it. When he suggested said rating system it was after the surprising victory of a five-star meal with loads of extra bonus points for being extremely healthful (so much green stuff)!

Cauliflower Tabouli Cauliflower Tabouli

I rarely let my one or two star scores keep me from cooking the food I want or feel my family needs but as I’m sure many of you can relate to, it is tiring cooking for a tough crowd. So we celebrate the meals that leave us all satisfied and I tuck away their cheers and kind words for the many other days when the answer  to “what’s for dinner?” is met with grimaces and tears.

Our most recent victory came from Tess Master’s latest book, The Perfect Blend. You guys, I’ll be honest, I am not one to get behind super “healthy” eating. I don’t jump on the new year’s resolution band wagon, I steer clear of paleo, and am never one to shy away from butter. My idea of healthful eating is consuming real food made from real ingredients and if sometimes a few Cool Ranch Doritos get in there – well, it’s not the end of the world. But I found myself folding down the corner of so many recipes in Tess’ book because they are unique, creative and frankly they just sound delicious.

I have never before been tempted to turn cauliflower into rice but the stunning image and long list of colorful ingredients in Tess’ Tricked-Up Tabouli convinced me. Because I’m terrible at following a recipe I didn’t do exactly as she said but I loved the result. I used what I had on hand and followed the idea and served the salad alongside chicken kofta meatballs with a feta and yogurt sauce (I’ll share that recipe soon). Okay and yes, I also made pita. Plates were clean. I knew the meatballs and the pita would be a winner but the salad received glowing praises as well.

The piles of herbs and mix of color and texture lured me in. She added hemp seeds but I didn’t have any on hand, I also think I quadrupled the amount of dill and definitely added the pickle. Next time I’ll throw in chickpeas even though Ivy claims those are her worst enemy bean. Hey, that’s fine, I’m happy with four stars.

Cauliflower Tabouli Cauliflower Tabouli

Cauliflower Tabouli

From The Perfect Blend by Tess Masters

 

I’ve kept Tess’ original ingredients as written but as I mentioned I played around with the quantities of things a bit based on what I had in my kitchen (I also didn’t bother seeding the tomatoes or cucumber). I left out the hemp seeds, used less parsley, more dill and didn’t use the allspice.

 

From Tess: With cauliflower rice stepping in for cracked wheat, the classic Middle Eastern salad goes raw and grain-free. Loaded with hydrating, alkaline ingredients, this version is a cleansing superstar. Its aromatic elements—herbs, allspice, and lemon zest—enliven the sweet fruits and vegetables. The pickles come in with crunch, tanginess, and probiotics; the red pepper flakes stimulate digestion and help flush your system. For the most balanced flavor profile, consume the tabouli as soon as it’s dressed. If you’re not serving it right away, chill the salad and the dressing separately, and combine just when you’re ready to serve.

 

SERVES 6 TO 8;

DRESSING MAKES 3⁄4 CUP (180ML)

 

1⁄2 large head cauliflower, cut into florets

 

4 cups (200g) firmly packed finely chopped flat-leaf parsley (about 4 large bunches)

 

2 cups (340g) seeded and diced tomato

 

2 cups (300g) peeled, seeded, and diced English cucumber

 

1 cup (140g) ribbed, seeded, and diced red bell pepper

 

1 cup (80g) finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)

 

1⁄2 cup (75g) diced red onion, plus more to taste

 

1⁄2 cup (20g) firmly packed finely chopped mint

 

2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

 

1⁄2 cup (70g) shelled hemp seeds

 

1 teaspoon natural salt, plus more to taste

 

1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground

 

black pepper, plus more to taste

 

dressing

 

1⁄3 cup (80ml) extra-virgin olive oil

 

1⁄4 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

 

6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste

 

1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 3 cloves)

 

3⁄4 teaspoon ground allspice, plus more to taste

 

optional boosters

 

1 1⁄2 cups (270g) cooked chickpeas or 1 (15-ounce/425g) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

 

1⁄2 cup (80g) diced dill pickle

 

1⁄8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste

 

Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until finely minced. The cauliflower ‘rice’ will resemble couscous. You should have about 3 cups.

 

In a large bowl combine the cauliflower, parsley, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, green onion, red onion, mint, dill, and hemp seeds. Add to that any boosters you’d like. I highly recommend the addition of pickle.

 

Tess suggests: To make the dressing, throw the olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic, allspice, and the red pepper flake booster into your blender and blast on high for about 30 seconds, until the dressing is emulsified and the garlic has been completely pulverized. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss well to evenly combine. Add the salt and pepper and tweak the lemon juice, allspice, salt, and pepper to taste.

 

Instead of using the blender I drizzled the olive oil and lemon juice directly over the bowl of ingredients then simply tossed it all together. I forgot to add the garlic but next time will not make the same mistake. Add the salt and pepper then taste and adjust as needed.

 

Serve immediately for the best flavor. Leftovers will keep in the fridge but the vegetables will leach water so it’s best to eat it all right away.

 

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Winter Slaw + Jalapeño Tahini Dressing

Winter Slaw Winter Slaw

A gaping void in the corner exists where the tree once stood while its soft scented needles still require vacuuming. I breathe in deep soaking in the quiet. The kids are back in school, the house is still, apart from Lily the pup, chewing on her squeaky toy. Two weeks ago we started a season filled with family, friends and oh so much food and I loved it, savored it, lived it and now the quiet feels foreign and so freaking good.

Before jumping back into work emails I open a newsletter from Brené Brown (http://www.courageworks.com/). In it she shares her new year’s questions that she asks herself every year.

  1. What do I want more of in my life?
  2. How do I let go of what’s no longer serving me?
  3. What will make me feel more alive? More brave?
  4. At the end of every day and at the end of every year, I need to know that I contributed more than I criticized. How have I contributed and what will that look like moving forward?
Winter Slaw

 

I put off work just a bit longer in order to spend time sitting with these questions. By the time I’ve worked my way through them I see the words laughter, joy, and simplicity repeat themselves. I write fear, insecurity and comparison where she asks what’s no longer serving me. At the end of it I write ‘Honor the simple joys’ on a blank sheet of paper. Not even knowing what it means I follow the nudging as these words float in like a breeze. They’ve not left me since and serve as a soft reminder to soak in our everydays and appreciate them for what they are, not what I think they need to be. Repeating them on a continuous loop in my mind I slow down. Hopefully I can keep this up.

I’m sharing these questions here in case you too need a bit of a push to think through this new year. It’s a great place to start. As is salad. At the end of all the festivities I made no resolutions for big changes in my diet but rather continued the commitment to listen to my body and feed it what it needs. Although I’m not sure it really needed the number of cocktails I enjoyed during the holidays. This salad was responding to my body’s cry for freshness.

This is the sort of salad where you could sit and eat an entire bowl and still feel real great about yourself. The dressing, simply tahini and pickled jalapeños blended together with a touch of salt and enough water to get it to the right consistency, is flavorful and as light as they come. Don’t shy away from the sprinkling of cumin seeds and if you’re okay with cheese I think a fresh salty feta would be a nice addition.

Winter Slaw Winter Slaw Winter Slaw

 

Winter Slaw with Tahini Jalapeño Dressing

1/4 head purple cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1/2 napa cabbage, cored and thinly sliced

1 cup roughly chopped cilantro

3 scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled into strips

1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds

1 avocado, halved and sliced

1/3 – 1/2 cup toasted pepitas

 

1/4 cup tahini

1/8 cup pickled jalapeños, drained

1/4 cup water (more or less)

Pinch salt

 

In a large bowl combine the purple and napa cabbage along with the cilantro and scallions.

Blend together the tahini, pickled jalapeños, and salt in a blender or food processor. Add enough water to make a creamy dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Toss the greens with the dressing. Tip the salad onto a platter then top with the carrots and sliced avocado. Sprinkle the cumin seeds and pepitas over top.

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