Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Spicy Cauliflower Salad 2016

Salads of all sorts get me feeling light and fresh and nourished so I make them all the time. They are also capable of dazzling my taste buds. I definitely love meat and potatoes and other things, but salads…you can do anything with a salad! I suppose it helps to love vegetables, but part of what makes them special is what you do to them. If you haven’t found a way to prepare cauliflower that you like yet, maybe just keep going! Or zucchini or broccoli or green beans. Keep trying different preparations and maybe you’ll discover that they’re pretty delicious after all.

If you’re already a veggie-lover, then here’s another little something to throw together and serve with something grilled. Crunch from the cauliflower, tender roasted peppers, a little kick from the sport peppers – yum!

Spicy Cauliflower Salad

Salad:

1 bag frozen cauliflower florets

1 roasted red bell pepper

1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 c. black olives, sliced

8 sport peppers, minced about 3 Tbsp. (or pepperoncini)

3 Tbsp. minced fresh chives

Salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. red wine vinegar

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 small clove of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

A pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Steam the frozen cauliflower lightly (the instructions called for 6 1/2 minutes, I cooked it for 4 minutes). Drain and place in a large bowl.
  2. Slice the roasted bell pepper into strips and add to the cauliflower along with the halved cherry tomatoes, sliced olives, minced peppers, and chives. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad.
  4. Mix well, tossing until everything is coated.
  5. Allow the salad to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes or more so the flavors can meld.
  6. Adjust the seasonings with a little more salt and pepper if desired and enjoy!

Truffled Cauliflower Rice

Truffled Cauliflower Rice 2016-001

Want to know what my favorite pizza is? (Shhhh….I know. Pizza and I are sworn enemies. It always hurts me. But sometimes it happens. And sometimes it’s gluten-free or Paleo or meatza, but sometimes it’s not. Then I’m reminded that we don’t get along and I pick myself up and move on.) But anyway. Favorite one? Mushroom. I love it a lot.

To get around the whole pizza-and-I-aren’t-friends-but-I-really-love-mushrooms-thing, I cook with them often. And I’m considering making some that taste a lot like pizza so I can have a happy mouth and a happy mind and body too. They’re great in so many ways and here they make an appearance with truffle oil to enhance all that is earthy in both. Years ago we went to Tuscany with friends to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary and we tasted truffle oil that I can still feel. I can’t exactly taste it anymore, the memory is too far back, but I remember what it felt like to smell it and taste it and covet it. In the years that have followed, truffle oil has made its way closer and closer by way of specialty stores and, in this case, Trader Joe’s. Is it the same quality? Sometimes, maybe. Not this one. But it still gives depth and a heady, lush quality to certain dishes that is irresistible to me.

I love it here with cauliflower, that humble vegetable that takes on so many personalities. I really, really wish that cutting cauliflower and ricing cauliflower didn’t leave all those teeny-tiny bits everywhere, though. I know it shouldn’t be a big deal, but it bugs me, which means I do it less often than I would if it didn’t get everywhere. Sometimes these days, I’ve taken to buying a giant bag of the florets and tossing them in the food processor. Faster, easier, and neater. And I know that you can get it already riced now at Trader Joe’s, and probably other places. I think that’s great if you need it in an instant, but I usually want more than what comes in the bag. So it’s a trade off. And truly, more often than not, I tell myself to quit being silly and get the cauliflower. I know. A little crazy.

This is comfort food that settles and grounds my heart.

Truffled Cauliflower Rice 2016Truffled Cauliflower Rice

1 head of cauliflower

2 tsp. ghee, divided

1/2 onion, chopped

5-6 large mushrooms, thinly sliced

2 Tbsp. fresh chives, minced

Zest from 1/2 a lemon

1 Tbsp. truffle oil, plus more to serve

Salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Start by quartering your head of cauliflower. Pulse each quarter in a food processor fitted with an s-blade about 10 times. You want it to look like grains of rice without being mushy. Put in a large bowl.
  2. Add a generous pinch of salt to the cauliflower and stir around. Cover loosely and microwave for 6 minutes.
  3. Remove from the microwave, take off the cover, and set aside.
  4. Melt 1 tsp. ghee in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions, sliced mushrooms, and a pinch of salt.
  5. Sauté for 5-7 minutes until onion is translucent and mushrooms have released their water and are cooked to your liking.
  6. Add 1 tsp. ghee and the riced cauliflower. Stir to combine.
  7. Turn off the heat and stir in the chives, lemon zest, and truffle oil.
  8. Taste and season with salt and several turns of freshly cracked pepper.
  9. Plate and serve with additional truffle oil for drizzling.

Serves 4

Chicken Faux-tato Salad

Chicken Faux-tato Salad 2 2016

I can hardly call this a recipe. It’s really something that comes together with a few ingredients that I tend to have on hand, and then I’m quite flexible with the quantities. My chicken thighs were cooked on the bone and they were giant, so I only used two. But if you have frozen ones, they tend to be smaller so I’d add more. It can be different every time, too. Don’t be afraid to experiment – it’s very forgiving. If I have more celery or more pickles or fewer eggs or less chicken, it really doesn’t matter. And if I had some parsley or dill on hand, I’d have been tempted to add it. Capers could have gone in or shredded carrots – in fact all kinds of variations exist. But on this day, for this blog post, this was the combination that came together.

I have been mentoring an 11 year old girl for the past few weeks and I bring my lunch while she gets hers from the school. I noticed that she likes vegetables in general and that she’s been a little curious about what I bring. I asked if she’d like me to bring her some to try and she said yes the last time, so I brought this today. She doesn’t like cauliflower, but she loves pickles so she thought it was worth it. She skipped the cauliflower, but devoured the rest. I think the cauliflower is totally innocuous and almost like potatoes, but not everyone agrees. I think it tastes a lot like a traditional potato salad, only it’s not.

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Because I use frozen cauliflower, it’s super easy to pull together. No mess, nothing to worry about, and the cauliflower is already blanched so it’s tender. I hope you like it!

Chicken Faux-tato Salad

2-3 cooked chicken thighs, chopped

12 oz. frozen cauliflower, thawed and roughly chopped

1-2 hard-boiled eggs, chopped

5-6 small pickles, finely chopped

2 large celery stalks, finely chopped

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

4 tsp. mayonnaise

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Take all of your chopped ingredients and place them in a large bowl.
  2. Add the mustard and mayonnaise and mix well, ensuring everything is evenly coated.
  3. Taste and add salt and pepper. It needs salt, but the pickles are salty and so is the mustard, so be sure to taste first.
  4. Once it’s the way you like it, enjoy!

Serves about 2

Confetti “Rice” Salad with Salmon

Cauliflower Rice

I’m a cookbook junkie. I have an entire bookshelf dedicated to cookbooks plus a few shelves on a secondary bookshelf and a new shelf in the pantry, but I don’t think anyone’s noticed that one yet… 😉 I was in my early 20s living in France when I first started reading cookbooks as if they were best-selling novels. I had a 90 minute commute on the metro and a regional train to the suburbs of Paris for work. When you spend that much time on public transportation, you go through a lot of books. I was also on a tight budget, so when I discovered a series of spiral-bound paperback cookbooks that covered individual topics, I was elated. They were about $2 a piece, and nearly every week I would buy a couple. I still have my collection today, but honestly, I don’t cook from them anymore. I just can’t imagine parting with them either. Over the years, I’ve collected many more cookbooks and periodically I do go through them and donate some. Each time it makes me smile to see how my tastes and cooking style have evolved over the years.

Lately, as I’m sure you can imagine, Paleo cookbooks have placed front and center and I recently got one called 500 Paleo Recipes by Dana Carpender. One of the things that I look for in a cookbook these days is that little something different, something unusual. I’m not afraid to combine exotic flavors or seemingly random ingredients to create a flavor or texture that awakens the palate and Dana does just that! I find myself wanting to try so many of the recipes and when I do, I want to make them again.

That’s what happened with this recipe. It is inspired by Dana’s own Confetti Salad but when I made it, I modified a few things along the way. It was so delicious that I immediately wanted to make it again and decided to record what I was doing so that I could share it with you. There’s something magical that happens with the soft, slightly briny artichoke hearts and the rich, toasted pine nuts with the gentle tang of white balsamic. It’s really special, I think. Just so you know, nobody out there is going to mind if you make a few of your own modifications (the original didn’t call for salmon so you could always skip it, for example) and make this your very own.

Confetti “Rice” Salad with Salmon – inspired by 500 Paleo Recipes

4 tsp. Paleo mayonnaise

4 tsp. white balsamic vinegar

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp. dry thyme

1 1/2 tsp. curry powder

1/4 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

1/3 c. artichoke hearts (I used about 1/2 a can)

1/3 c. thinly sliced bell pepper, preferably red/orange/yellow

1/2 c. thinly sliced celery

1 1/2 c. steamed cauliflower rice*

3-4 oz. cooked salmon (canned okay)

2 tsp. pine nuts, toasted

1 scallion, sliced

pepper to taste

Directions

1) In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, thyme, curry powder and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

2) If the artichoke hearts are large or need trimming, quarter or cut off any tough parts and place in a medium salad bowl. Add the bell pepper slices, celery, and cauliflower rice. Add the salmon and dressing and mix gently so the salmon stays in nice-sized pieces.

3) Taste and adjust seasioning with any additional salt, pepper, or curry powder. Top with pine nuts and scallions and serve.

Serves 1-2 (If serving 2, some hard-boiled eggs and tomato slices on the side would be nice.)

*Note: To make cauliflower rice, place florets in a food processor fitted with an s-blade and pulse 10-12 times until it looks like grains of rice. It might take a few batches so it doesn’t turn to mush. Put the rice into a microwave-safe bowl and cook on high for about 6 minutes. Let cool and then either use immediately or refrigerate to use later in the week for salads like this!

Green Chile Cauliflower Rice

Roasted Chile Cauliflower Rice 2014

I’m so sorry it’s been a while since I’ve posted a new recipe. Sometimes life just gets in the way! I haven’t stopped cooking, though, and I have a few different recipes that are waiting to be shared. I would love to say that it’s a bunch of meat dishes, since I need a few more of those on the blog, but of course, it’s my beloved veggies that come first.

In Colorado, this time of year is chile roasting season. Pueblo, in particular, is known for its Pueblo chile – hotter than an Anaheim but still not habanero-hot, the Pueblo chile is meaty and flavorful and we use it for everything. Green chile (the sauce/stew, not just the chile itself) covers just about anything here from burritos to eggs to biscuits and you can do anything you want with the plain chile – I’ve even used them to replace a hamburger bun and it was delicious. We like to get our chiles roasted by the bushel and you can find that being done at farmers markets, in front of supermarkets, and at the Pueblo Chile and Frijoles festival. The air smells fantastic, even if your eyes might sting a little bit.

Since green chiles are a tradition here, I really couldn’t imagine going through fall without sharing a recipe with you that’s filled with them. If you can’t get your hands on some Pueblo chiles, you can use Anaheim or poblano chiles. You’ll just want to be sure to roast them first and you might add a jalapeno or Serrano to kick up the heat a bit. This version of cauliflower rice is currently my favorite! Happy fall!

Green Chile Cauliflower Rice

1/2 large head of cauliflower

1 tsp. salt

1Tbsp. lard, bacon grease, or F.O.C. (fat of choice)

1/2 onion, chopped

1-3 Pueblo green chiles (depending on how hot you like it), roasted and chopped

1/4 c. full fat coconut milk

1 Tbsp. lime juice

Cilantro (optional)

Directions

1) First, rice the cauliflower. Roughly chop the florets and place in a food processor with an s-blade. Pulse about 10 times until the cauliflower resembles grains of rice. This may take a few batches so that it doesn’t turn to mush. Place in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave the “rice” for 6 minutes. Let cool slightly.

2) In a large sauté pan, melt lard over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the cauliflower, salt and green chiles and cook for about 5 minutes more.

3) Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk and lime, stirring to combine. Taste to adjust the seasonings and serve.

Serves 2-3

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Caper Dressing 2013

I have always liked cauliflower – I pretty much like all veggies – but since going paleo, I have learned to love it. It is so generous and unassuming, never minding if you want it to look like potatoes or rice or chick peas, just going along with your every desire. While it certainly does a great job of standing in for other vegetables, from time to time I like to let it shine as the star of the show. This recipe in particular highlights some of cauliflower’s greatest attributes. Roasting brings out the sweetness of it and it becomes deliciously tender while still maintaining its structure. The tangy vinaigrette gets absorbed by the warm florets and makes the whole dish sing! If you end up with leftovers, it tastes great cold too and would make a great addition to a composed salad. Enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower with Lemon-Caper Vinaigrette

1 large head of cauliflower, about 3 lbs.

1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted

3/4 tsp. salt

pepper to taste

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

Juice from 1/2 a lemon, about 1 Tbsp.

2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp. capers, minced

2 scallions, minced

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Break the cauliflower into florets, cutting the larger ones into bite-sized pieces, and place in 1 or 2 large glass baking dishes. You want a single layer of florets so they roast and don’t steam. Roast for 25-30 minutes until tender and caramelized, stirring from time to time and switching the dishes to different shelves, if necessary.

2) Mix the garlic, mustard, and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Add the olive oil and continue to mix with a whisk to emulsify the dressing. Mix in the capers and scallions and set aside until the cauliflower is done roasting.

3) When the cauliflower is done to your liking, toss it still hot with the dressing, add any additional salt and pepper, and serve warm.

Serves 6

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

I don’t know how to tell you this, but I think I can live without chickpeas. I used to love hummus and was pretty disappointed when I learned that chickpeas were out with paleo due to the fact that they’re quite difficult to digest and meat is simply a more dense protein source. I quickly realized that I was going to need to find a replacement because I really enjoy Mediterranean flavors and having a little something to dip my veggies in when I’m feeling snacky is a real treat. So here we are with what is quickly becoming my favorite vegetable – cauliflower! It’s not my favorite raw and it’s not my favorite roasted, but rice it or puree it and flavor it any way you want, and suddenly all things are possible!

Paleo Cauliflower Hummus

1/2 a head of cauliflower, roughly chopped

2 cloves or garlic, chopped

2 Tbsp. tahini

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1-2 Tbsp. water

1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

olive oil drizzle (optional)

paprika sprinkle (optional)

Directions

1) Steam the cauliflower. I used a Ziploc steamer bag and microwaved it for 4 minutes. You want it soft but not water-logged. Put in a food processor.

2) Add the remaining ingredients (except the drizzle of olive oil and paprika), beginning with 1 Tbsp. of water, and puree until you have a smooth consistency. You may need to scrape down the sides and add the 2nd Tbsp. of water or more until you get it creamy smooth to your liking.

3) Allow to rest for about 10 minutes until the flavors have melded. Drizzle with extra olive oil, sprinkle with paprika, and eat with abandon.

Serves 4

*Note: This would be delicious with some cumin added as well!