Dishing: a good side of Bad-boy Cauliflower

From Bland to Beautiful. Cauliflower; you dress up nicely.

Photo: d. king

My food goal this week was to make the easiest Anthony Bourdain recipe I could find.  There were two.  But I chose this one for two reasons.  1) I had a head of cauliflower in my fridge intending to make cauliflower rice. 2) Anything that makes cauliflower more flavorful is worth a try.  This one will not disappoint.  It’s actually very delicious – tastes better than it looks.  What I find funny is that Cauliflower is one of my least favorite vegetables yet I’m appreciating how adaptable it is.  Unfortunately I’m not a big fan of the cruciferous kind.  But there are exceptions to every rule.

This recipe is dead simple to throw together too. It’s also intriguing because it mixes Greek & Italian herbs with Middle Eastern tahini and Japanese miso. Proves we can all get along.

The cauliflower gets crisp and charred on the edges. After the florets are roasted and tossed in the thick sauce of tahini, miso, red wine vinegar and a splash of water, the heat of the cauliflower will loosen up the sauce and coat every inch in delicious nuttiness, umami and a tad of tang.

It’s a side dish but Bourdain said one adult could easily polish off the entire dish for dinner. As usual, he said it exactly like it is.  I did it.

So when he described this dish as This s–t is compulsively delicious, you can bet that he was right.

“Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame” is from his book, “Appetites: A Cookbook”

It’s the last cookbook he wrote. This isn’t a collection of necessarily cutting-edge cooking, but rather recipes for dishes that he loved to cook at home — well, on the rare days that he was actually in New York and not traveling the globe for his must-see “Parts Unknown” show on CNN. They’re also dishes that Bourdain thought every home-cook ought to have in his or her repertoire.  It will be a part of mine from now on.

Roasted Cauliflower with Sesame

(Serves 4 as a side dish)

1 head of cauliflower, broken by hand into florets

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt (I used fleur-de-sel)

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons tahini

1 tablespoon white miso  (it’s a paste that you can readily find now at most grocery stores)

2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

1 1/2 tablespoons water

3 tablespoons toasted white sesame seeds (I used a mixed sesame seasoning seed blend)

*I squeezed a little bit of fresh lemon juice over top but try it “as is” first.

All you have to do is toss the cauliflower with spices, roast, and then toss it again with your tahini and miso mixture. That’s it!

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cauliflower, oil, salt, coriander, oregano, and pepper and toss well to evenly coat the cauliflower with the oil and spices. Transfer to a sheet pan and arrange in an even layer, making spaces between the pieces as much as possible. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 minutes, turning the tray and lightly tossing the pieces halfway through.

While the cauliflower roasts, combine the tahini, miso, vinegar and 1 1/2 tablespoons water in a small mixing bowl, and whisk until smooth.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove it from the oven, transfer to a mixing bowl, and toss with the sauce and sesame seeds to coat evenly.

Side note: Bourdain’s chapter on desserts is all of one page, which essentially says, “F–k dessert.” Turns out he wasn’t big on sweets, preferring cheese instead.

Adapted from “Appetites: A Cookbook” by Anthony Bourdain

 

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Food: the versatile rice bowl

I’ve rekindled my love for rice bowls.  Not only nutritious & delicious but easy to make.

vegetarian coconut rice bowl
vegetarian coconut rice bowl

It’s a good way to use up all kinds of leftovers. Energize your meal with protein: chicken, salmon or steak. Substitute quinoa or noodles instead of rice as a base and play with a variety of different veggies and dressings to turn it Mexican, Indian, Asian+ for endless possibilities.

Let’s try unlikely combos.  Let’s eat things that are good.  Let’s eat things that make us feel good.

Vegetarian Coconut Rice Bowl Recipe

Yield: 4  bowls

1 cup uncooked jasmine rice, rinsed
* 1 (14 oz) can coconut milk
* 1 cup chopped cilantro, divided
* 2 limes
* 2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
* 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
* 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 Tbs. freshly minced ginger
* 1/2 cup frozen edamame
* 2 scallions, finely sliced
* coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place the rinsed rice in a rice cooker. Add 3/4 cup coconut milk to the cooker, and 1 1/4 cup water & cook.

When the rice is done, add the juice of half a lime along with 1/2 cup cilantro. Stir.

Heat the oil over medium-high in a large sauté pan. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they become tender and dark brown, about 4 minutes. Add the zucchini and bell pepper; season with salt and pepper and sauté another 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger; sauté for about another minute.

Now add the remaining coconut milk, edamame, remaining cilantro, scallions & another good squeeze of lime juice. Let it simmer 3 minutes, or until the edamame warms through.

Serve over coconut rice garnished with more scallions and fresh lime wedges.

Here’s a growing fast food chain I really like:

Freshii is a (fairly new to Vancouver) fast food restaurant chain that specializes in healthy rice bowls, salads, juices and smoothies.  I recently stumbled upon it when I was hangry (that place when you’re really hungry, bordering on the verge of cranky anger) and enjoyed the *Oaxaca bowl very much.  I wondered why there were not more fast food places like it. The story behind it is interesting blending fashion & food.

Matthew Corrin is the founder & CEO of Freshii.  While working in New York City for fashion designer Oscar de la Renta, Matthew was inspired by “mom-and-pop” delis with fresh food but lackluster branding & service. He sought to “add magic to the fresh food business” & brand the commodity of fresh food not unlike Starbucks branded the coffee bean. He’s a recipient of the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, Canada’s Top 40 under 40, Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 under 30, and Canadian Association of Foodservice Professionals Restaurateur of the Year. In 2005, he founded Freshii.

Oaxaca Bowl
my Oaxaca Bowl

*brown rice & kale, avocado, beet slaw, black beans, corn, salsa fresca, crispy wontons, lime wedge, spicy yogurt sauce (1927 W. 4th in Kits).

Source for vegetarian recipe: bevcooks.com