When I was a teenager, I had my own room that was lined in a ghastly pink wallpaper, covered with white flowers with bright green middles. It complimented the thick green shag carpeting quite nicely. I begged my mom to rip it down and repaint my room. It was the stuff of nightmares. She was incredulous. “You picked it out,” she said. She conveniently left out that I was four years old at the time.
When I finished my recipe this week and saw the finished product with the pink onion, white cauliflower, and green parsley, I couldn’t help but think of my old wallpaper and sigh with nostalgia. Could it be that those colors actually looked pretty together?
This is the final week of Mark Bittman’s The Food Matters Cook Book. This is also the first recipe I tagged in his book. As a matter of fact, I took a photo of the recipe and sent it to my brother and told him to make it, too. I thought it sounded simple and delicious. I was right.
I put a pot of water to boil and cored the cauliflower. I gotta be honest here, I didn’t know the official fancy way to core a cauliflower. I figured it took some kind of special knife that I didn’t have. I cut the bottom off and kind of cut my way into the bottom. You can see my handy knife work here. Boy was it ugly.
By the by….I watched a video of how Martha did it and instead of cutting a well in the bottom like I did, she just cut the whole thing from the top down, into quarters. BORING. I wanted a bit of adventure in my cauliflower.
Once the water was boiling, I threw the whole head in and let it do its thing for 10 minutes. I should have checked it at 7 minutes. I felt that it was perfectly tender at 10 minutes, but I wanted it to still have some bite. Check it with a pointy knife and if it just slices in, it’s done. When the cauliflower is just how you like it, pull it
from the heat and plunge it directly in a bowl full of icy water. This stops the
cooking and also seems very dramatic and a cauliflower is nothing if not dramatic. I let it sit there in its icy bath and went back to the hot pot and dumped out the boiled water.
In the hot pot, I put in oil, onions and garlic. Stirring it a bit, I cooked them about 5 minutes until they were no longer raw. I threw in all the spices and mixed. It smelled so delicious. Quite unlike any cauliflower dish I’ve had. I mixed in the lemon juice and took it all off of the stove.
I roughly chopped the drained cauliflower and put it in the pot, tossing it with the onion dressing. It needed a bit more salt, so I sprinkled a bit in from up high and garnished it with the chopped parsley.
This is one of those recipes that tastes even better the next day, but feel free to have your fill right now.
Chopped Cauliflower Salad, North African Style
- 1 large cauliflower, cored
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. coriander
- 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
- Black Pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil and salt it; set up a bowl of ice water. Add the cauliflower to the boiling water and cook until you an just barely pierce the center with a skewer or thin-bladed knife (you want it still quite crisp), 10 to 15 minutes.
- Remove the cauliflower, plunge it in the ice water, and let it cool for a few minutes.
- Drain the cauliflower well and roughly chop.
- Dump the cooking water, put the oil in the same pot, and turn the heat to medium. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring once or twice, until they are no longer raw.
- Stir in the cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir in the lemon juice and turn off the heat.
- Toss the cauliflower with the warm dressing in the pot. Taste, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and garnish with chopped parsley. Serve immediately. (Or wait to add the parsley, refrigerate for up to a day or two, bring the salad back to room temperature, and toss with the parsley right before serving.)