Thursday, February 3, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Tahini Sauce

Cauliflower gets a bad rap. Yes, it's a member of the cabbage family ~ another famously misused veggie. And yes, we've all had bad experiences in our past with this vegetable in an overcooked, underseasoned state of waterlogged mush that someone tried to pass off as acceptable. But I bet you've had a lame burger or a substandard pizza at some point and you're probably still going steady with those. So let's move on, okay?
Cauliflower isn't just the pretty face of the cabbage family. It's an excellent sourse of vitamin C, folic acid, and potassium (when eaten raw) ~ cooked, it's still a good source of folic acid. It contains niacin and vitamin B6 when raw, and copper when cooked (and it retains that B6). You can take a gander at this page if you want to learn more about the super-fantastic qualities that cauliflower brings to the table.
I'm a huge fan of cauliflower. I say this because I want to be up-front about the fact that it doesn't take much (anything, really) to induce me to eat it. I love it raw. I love it steamed. Roasted. With sauce, without. Lucky me, right? But certain members of my family aren't so fortunate. They suffer through even a few bites of cauliflower, choking it down like it's medicine (and it kind of is ~ it's so good for you). But being determined to eat, and serve, it as often as possible, I really wanted to try to make it palatable to the haters in my house. And guess what? I did it.
For the first time ever, I had no leftover cauliflower at all. And I'm not the one who finished it off. When I asked, casually, "So, what did you think of the cauliflower?" The response was, "I loved it." Which may be a record-setter. I don't even recall that kind of feedback the last time I came up with a new dessert recipe, which happened to be dulce de leche ice cream. (And that was pretty good, if I do say so myself.)
Roasted Cauliflower with Garlic and Tahini Sauce
Serves 4
  • 1 head cauliflower, washed, cored, and broken into bite-sized florets
  • Drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Pinch cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley or sesame seeds to garnish, optional
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a roasting pan or baking sheet with foil (if desired) and spray with nonstick pan spray. Place cauliflower in pan and drizzle with olive oil. Toss, or turn with a spatula, to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place in oven for 15 minutes.
2. Remove cauliflower from oven, sprinkle with minced garlic and toss, or turn, to coat. Return to oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until cauliflower is tender and becoming golden brown. Meanwhile, combine sesame oil, tahini, soy sauce, lemon, and cayenne in a small mixing bowl. Whisk sauce with a fork until smooth. 
3. Remove cauliflower from oven and pour sauce over. Gently toss, or turn, to coat cauliflower in sauce. Remove to serving dish and garnish with chopped parsley or sesame seeds. Serve hot or at room temperature.

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    White Bean and Tuna Salad

    Lunches can be tough. Sandwiches are predictable, soup requires forethought (and a leak-proof container if you schlep it to work), and pre-made frozen entrees are just . . . well, just no.

    Salads, on the other hand, are interesting. First of all, the definition of "salad" is so broad, so wide-open to interpretation, that you can take it anywhere you feel like going. Not in the mood for lettuce? No problem. Who says salad has to have lettuce in it? Not Webster's, which 'fesses that salad is "small pieces of food (as pasta, meat, fruit, or vegetables) usually mixed with a dressing." Works for me.

    And what could be easier? Basically, the formula for salad is just chop some foods you like into bite-size pieces, throw them into a bowl, toss them with some sort of complementary dressing, and eat. Lunch! Or dinner. Or breakfast ~ why not?

    This particular salad is one of my all-time favorites. It requires no cooking, is good year-round, is loaded with protein and good, healthy fats, and it's pretty ~ which means you can serve it for lunch guests. I like it with a vivacious little white wine, vinho verde being my particular pour of choice.
    White Bean and Tuna Salad
    Serves 4
    • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • 1 15-ounce can good-quality cannellini or small white beans, drained and rinsed
    • ¼ cup diced red onion
    • 1 teaspoon nonpareil capers, drained
    • 1/3 cup chopped fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley
    • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
    • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil, drained (can use water-packed) 
    • Torn lettuce leaves (romaine, Bibb, or butter) for serving, optional
    Whisk together oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper in a mixing bowl. Add beans, onion, capers, parsley, lemon zest, and tomatoes and toss gently to combine. Lightly toss in tuna. Serve at room temperature or chill for 30 minutes. Serve on a bed of torn greens.

    Recipe Notes:
    • If using water-packed tuna, add an additional drizzle of olive oil if desired.
    • Tuna packed in olive oil has a rich, delicious flavor. It's especially good in recipes where the tuna isn't mixed with mayonnaise. If you like a more assertive flavor, you can omit the olive oil from the dressing and add the tuna without draining.



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