I used to studiously avoid raw cauliflower when faced with a crudite platter. Broccoli florets were softer and easer to manage. Carrots were crunch enough – I didn’t need to awkwardly try to fit an entire piece of cauliflower in my mouth. Or better yet, try to bite a piece off and have the remaining bits crumble around my feet, a tell tale sign that I’m an awkward eater.
Then a few months ago, I discovered the joy of raw cauliflower. It’s sweeter than broccoli and carries none of the bitterness. The crumbles are delightful when you actually manage to get them all into your mouth. When processed and mixed with other shredded veggies and dressed with a lemon vinaigrette, it makes a delightful salad.
Unfortunately, my stomach isn’t a huge fan of raw cauliflower. Cruciferous vegetables can be difficult to digest cooked; eating them raw is just a dare to your digestive system.
The lesson in this is, of course, that cauliflower is at its best when roasted. Life changing, even. Every time I roast it, I can’t help but pick two or three florets off the pan before I even serve them.The caramelized melty goodness is too good to resist. Plus, all those little crumbles turn into delicious crispy bits.
I usually just eat cauliflower as a side to another component, savoring each perfectly seasoned piece. Even as much as I love MMMM sauce, I’m hesitant to put it on roasted cauliflower because I love the simple taste of it so much.
But when I got email from Vegetarian Times about a cauliflower salad, I figured I’d branch out. This dish is light and sweet, but is plenty filling.
Sweet n’ Light Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas
Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 – 1 cup chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- Salt + pepper, to taste
- 1/3 cup raisins
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup chickpea cooking liquid, water, or vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper
- Roast on baking sheet for 30 – 35 minutes, until beginning to brown
- Heat chickpeas in a pot with cumin and cayenne. [You can add oil if you wish, I just didn’t feel like they needed it]. Just cook until heated through.
- Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients in food processor, and process until smooth. Add more water/liquid/broth to reach your desired consistency.
- When cauliflower is done, toss with chickpeas and dressing.
This is why I read new recipes – I never would have thought to add raisins to a dressing, but their sweetness complemented the cauliflower beautifully. The original dressing had quite a bit more oil, but I cut it down in favor of using the chickpea liquid. If you use water, you might have to season more heavily.
Ah, cauliflower my love, I’m so glad I found you! Until next time….