I LOVE cooking, and one of my favourite things to make is a tasty, robust salad. To be honest, it’s become such a habit that serving just plain old vegies feels like a bit of cop-out these days. I would much rather eat my veg in endless rainbow combinations, doused in fruity olive oil, spiked with spices such as sumac, cumin or cinnamon, and a sprinkling of pine nuts or pistachios. It makes eating healthily so much more appealing!
Creating a salad chock full of colour and flavour is also, in my experience, the best way to make your partner (or kids) eat something they would otherwise screw their noses up at – quinoa, for instance! (I totally won that battle with one of this month’s recipes!)
We’re kicking things off with a recipe I often make to take to picnics or to friends’ places for dinner, and which never fails to result in requests for the recipe. (Now I will no longer need to write it out everytime this happens!).
This amazing creation was passed on to me by a dear family friend, Margaret, who sadly passed away a few years ago. Margaret was known for her incredible culinary skills, and this roasted cauliflower tabouli was one of my favourites from her extensive repertoire. It’s a total crowd pleaser. The secret ingredient is of course the pomegranate molasses – a Middle Eastern syrup which I guess could be likened to a sweet, thick balsamic vinegar.
The basis of this recipe is ‘burghul’ (also known as ‘bulgar’) – it’s made from wheat, and tastes kind of similar to cous cous. If you prefer a gluten free diet, try substituting white quinoa, but be aware you will need to reduce the amount of dressing you add, as burghul is very absorbent and soaks up a lot of the dressing.
I must take a moment also to acknowledge the AMAZING skill of a new Melbourne photographer who we have recently started working with – Eve Wilson. What a talent, thankyou Eve for making this series so incredibly beautiful!
Ingredients (serves 4 as side dish)
For the salad
1 whole caulifower, broken into florets
1 cup of fine burghul, covered with 1 cup boiling water until liquid is absorbed
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and finely sliced
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
1 cup blanched almonds
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon sumac
For the dressing
50ml pomegranate molasses (available from Middle Eastern supermarkets)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 lemon, juiced
100ml extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 175°C. Pop your cauliflower florets on a baking tray, sprinkle with salt flakes and bake for 25 minutes or until they start to brown. No oil is needed here – it will make the cauliflower soft and soggy so don’t be tempted add it! Once baked, set the cauliflower aside to cool. They will smell AMAZING.
After you’ve roasted your cauli, turn the grill on and lightly toast your almonds under the grill, on a sheet of foil if desired. Should take no longer than 5 mins – keep your eye on them, they’re easy to burn.
To make the dressing, whisk all dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Set aside for 5 mins.
Now it’s time to prepare your raw veg. Chop your parsley. Slice your onion and fennel very finely, using a mandolin if you have one. This handy manual tool is kind of like a cheese grater for slicing vegies. They’re not too expensive (I think mine was $40, but it has way more bells and whistles than I really need) and it does make prep for salads like this much easier. It also ensures you get a really consistent fine slice – very important for fennel especially. If you don’t have a mandolin, just try to slice the fennel as finely and evenly as possible, using your sharpest kitchen knife.
To make salad, combine roasted cauliflower, burghul, fennel, onions, almonds and parsley in a large bowl and toss gently with the dressing. Add the dressing slowly – it is very flavoursome, taste test as you go to determine how much dressing you prefer.
Lastly, garnish with a sprinkling of sumac, and salt and pepper to taste.
This salad keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days.