Here’s a recipe headlining two ingredients that I never would have expected to see together – cauliflower, the cardboard of vegetables, and hazelnuts, chocolate’s favourite partner in crime. But it gets weirder as you read the other ingredients: pomegranate seeds, cinnamon, allspice, maple syrup? When I first encountered this recipe in Yotam Ottolengthi and Sami Tamimi’s new cookbook Jerusalem, I couldn’t even imagine how it would taste. But I’ve had good luck with Ottolenghi’s recipes, and when cauliflower and pomegranates went on sale during the same week, it was decided. I was going to try it out, and conveniently my aunt and uncle were coming over for dinner so I would be able to continue a long-standing family tradition of trying out new dishes on guests. That was a few weeks ago, which felt like a long time, so I made it again this morning. I almost ate the entire dish myself, which would have been fine because it is both delicious AND nutritious, but I wanted to save some for lunch tomorrow. I think you should try it out.
Smokey from the spices and the toasted nuts, sweet from the maple syrup, and refreshing from the pomegranate seeds and celery, there’s a lot going on in this salad, but the roast cauliflower keeps it grounded and gives it substance. Most awesome is how it’s served at room temperature, which makes it a great side for a dinner party or big gatherings like the upcoming American Thanksgiving – it can be made ahead of time and will sit happily in a corner on the counter while you work on other, more time-sensitive things. We ate it with shrimp, orzo & rice, but I think this salad would be at its most stellar with red meats, like roast beef, steak or lamb.
I am so happy that I have leftovers for my lunch tomorrow.
Roast Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad
1 head cauliflower, broken into small florets
5 tbsp olive oil
1 large stalk of celery, diced
5 tbsp hazelnuts
1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
1. Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl, and toss with 3 tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, and a few grinds of black pepper. Arrange on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and roast in the top 1/3 of the oven at 425 degrees until crisped and spotted with brown (about 25-35 minutes, depending on the size of the cauliflower chunks). Remove from oven, and return to the large bowl to cool.
2. Meanwhile, line the baking tray with a fresh sheet of parchment paper, and add the hazelnuts. Reduce the temperature to 325, and roast the nuts for 15-17 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. When they’re comfortable enough to handle, rub off any loose skin from the hazelnuts and discard. Chop the nuts and add them to the cauliflower.
3. Top with cauliflower and nuts with remaining ingredients and stir. Taste and add additional salt and pepper as desired. Serve at room temperature.