For those of you in the US, I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving! Ours was much better than I expected. As I wrote in my last post, I had been having a hard time getting in the holiday spirit after the election. A few days before Thanksgiving (with no menu whatsoever in place) I happened upon this article, which gave me the idea to draw on Middle Eastern flavors for our holiday meal. The bright flavors of Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and Israel felt like just what I needed to lift me out of my funk.
So I decided to scrap the turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce in favor of lemony leek meatballs; a basmati pilaf with chickpeas, currants and dill; homemade flatbread with za’atar; cucumber yogurt and a beautiful pink beet hummus. The star of the dinner, though, was this roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate and hazelnuts.
The recipe comes from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi--one of my all-time favorite cookbooks. This salad is earthy, nutty, sweet and tart all at once. The silky texture of the roasted cauliflower is balanced by the crunch of raw celery and toasty hazelnuts. The fact that this salad sits at the unlikely intersection of so many contrasting flavors and textures is a large part of it’s appeal. The fact that it’s beautiful and healthy doesn’t hurt either.
After I made this for Thanksgiving, I realized how festive those jewel-toned colors are--perfect for adding a bright splash to your holiday table. Or a quick weeknight supper. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
And in case you’re wondering, my post-election blues seem to be fading. I’ve been talking to friends about meaningful ways to take action and stand up for what I believe in. And gathering around the table with loved ones as often as possible. Which, in my opinion, is the best ways to cure any sort of blues.
Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad
- 5 tablespoons hazelnuts, raw or toasted
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- ¼ cup olive oil, divided
- Kosher or sea salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 large stalks celery, cut on the bias into 1/4 inch slices
- 1/4 cup celery leaves
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves
*Note: I recommend toasting your own hazelnuts for this recipe so their dark, nutty flavor really comes through. But pre-roasted nuts will do in a pinch.
If you are using raw hazelnuts: preheat your oven to 325° F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed sheet pan and roast until the skins start to loosen and the nuts turn golden-brown and fragrant, 8-12 minutes Transfer the hot hazelnuts to a clean tea towel. Gather the four corners of the towel and twist them together to form a parcel around the hazelnuts. Rub vigorously to remove as many skins as possible. Set aside until cool enough to handle.
Increase the oven temperature to 475° F. Place the cauliflower on a parchment lined sheet pan, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss with a generous pinch of salt. Roast until browned in spots and tender, 15-20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, allspice and a pinch of salt. Set aside.
Roughly chop the hazelnuts and place them in a large bowl along with the cauliflower, pomegranate seeds, celery, celery leaves, parsley and the vinaigrette. Stir to coat, taste, and adjust seasonings.
Serve at room temperature.
Makes 3-4 side-dish servings.
Adapted slightly from Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi