Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Tapenade

plate-of-heirloom-roasted-cauliflower

In fall we roast vegetables, and cauliflower is in season my friends. During fall and winter these cruciferous veggies are at their best and in live and living color. Bright orange, purple, green, yellow, and white heads of cauliflower can be found at farmers markets, Whole Foods, and other specialty produce stores. I walked on down to the Union Square Farmers Market with my pup to find some of the freshest local picks.

roasted-heirloom-cauliflower

Cauliflower can be a soft and delicious puree or mash yet is versatile enough to be meaty when cut into steaks and seared. For this roasted cauliflower recipe I seared the heirloom steaks in a cast-iron skillet before roasting them in the oven. While they were roasting I made the caper tapenade in the food processor. The brined and tangy capers, roasted garlic, sweet plump raisins, and creamy Parmesan are joyously united atop roasted cauliflower with lemon zest. The combination is sweet, sour and savory with the bitter cabbage flavor of the roasted cauliflower florets.

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Roasted cauliflower with caper tapenade is a great side dish served hot or cold. To be healthier you can steam the florets just enough so they still maintain some crunch and then toss them in the caper tapenade. Seared scallops would taste amazing with this side dish and would surely impress!

roasted-cauliflower-ingredients caper-tapenade

Roasted Cauliflower with Caper Tapenade:

  • Multi colored (heirloom) cauliflower
  • Olive oil or ghee
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 garlic cloves

For the tapenade: 

  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp jumbo raisins
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves
  • ¼ cup parmesean reggiano
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Lemon zest

Preheat your oven to 400 F. Prune the cauliflower heads and slice them vertically as best as you can into steaks. I used two to three different varieties for the great pop of color. Season the cauliflower with freshly ground black pepper. I did not use salt because the caper tapenade is naturally salted. Heat olive oil or ghee on medium heat and allow the pan to get very hot.cauliflower-steaks-pan-seared roasted-cauliflower-steaks

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I like to use a cast-iron skillet for a great sear. Sear the cauliflower steaks on each side for 3 minutes. At this time I also toss the whole garlic cloves in so they cook and get great flavor before pulsing them in the food processor for the tapenade. Remove garlic and place the cauliflower steaks in the hot oven and roast for 12 minutes or until tender.

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While the cauliflower is roasting place the garlic cloves, capers, raisins, parmesean, freshly ground black pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil in the food processor. Grind for 15-30 seconds. You want the relish to be rustic and chunky. Place the roasted cauliflower onto a platter and top with the caper relish. I added a small teaspoon of the tapenade onto each and spread it around with the back of the spoon. If you would prefer a healthier approach you can steam the cauliflower and toss it while hot with the tapenade. Garnish with a squeeze of lemon and freshly grated lemon zest.

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Pumpkin Tres Leches

beautiful-cake

Pumpkin tres leches cake is a fresh twist on a Cuban classic that is the perfect dessert for this Thanksgiving or holiday season. I have been bitten by the pumpkin bug, and I am relishing unabashedly in fall flavor goodness. I made this pumpkin tres leches cake last year for Thanksgiving on a whim- haphazardly dumping ingredients I had on hand together…and behold! My glorious creation entered into this world doused in tres leches and ready to be dressed with whipped cream and warm caramel.

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My recipe for pumpkin tres leches is semi-homemade, which means it is easier for you to make my friend. Make this dish a day in advance so you can relax and simply unleash the deliciousness on your family and friends stress free. I chose to serve this with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice since it was the easiest option, but you can dress this pumpkin tres leches up with merengue or whipped cream and a caramel sauce.

Pumpkin Tres Leches

  • 1 box French vanilla Duncan Hines cake mix
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 15 oz can pureed pumpkin
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 1 can evaporated milk
  • ½ cup milk

Preheat your oven to 350F, and grease a Pyrex dish well (I used a 9×9). Sift the cake mix into a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, melted butter, spices, and pumpkin puree. Mix well using a hand mixer or KitchenAid being sure to scrape along the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into the greased Pyrex dish and smooth out evenly. Bake the pumpkin tres leches for 35-40 minutes or until the center is set.

pumpkin-cake-ingredientsspices-for-cakereaady-batterpumpkin-cake-batter

Pour the condensed milk, milk, and evaporated milk into a container and shake well. Poke 50-70 holes into the pumpkin tres leches using a toothpick or wooden skewer. Slowly pour nearly two-thirds of the tres leches over the entire cake so it can be gradually absorbed and does not pool. If there seems to be too much milk simply pour it off or wait a few minutes before adding more.

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Tightly cover the cake and place in the refrigerator overnight.  Reserve and refrigerate the final third to use as garnish for plating.Cut the pumpkin tres leches into even slices. Pour 1 ounce of the tres leches onto the serving plate and plate the slice.

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Add a dollop of whipped cream or alternatively top with a dollop of meringue and torch to a golden brown. I made the burnt sugar decor by heating sugar on the stove top till bubbling and golden. The directions can be found here in my Cuban flan recipe.

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Fall Quinoa Salad

fall-quinoa-salad

Soft chunks of butternut squash, salty pumpkin seeds, sweet chopped dates, crunchy kale, and aromatic sage form a sensational and light quinoa salad for fall. Quinoa, couscous, tabbouleh, and barley are all versatile grains that really shine with the right ingredients. Fall is well underway and I have been itching to make a fall-fabulous salad with seasonal ingredients. For the summer and spring I love making a bright couscous salad with fresh crisp veggies, but a fall quinoa salad calls for richer flavors and textures.

ingredients-for-fall-saladmix-salad-in-the-bowl

Fall quinoa salad is crazy easy to make because it can be prepped in advance if you’re planning on treating guests to a feast. I roasted the butternut squash and made the quinoa a day ahead. It is better to work with chilled ingredients so the kale and sage do not wilt from the freshly cooked ingredients. Crunchy pepitas or pumpkin seeds add texture, flavor, and bring saltiness to the dish while butternut squash’s velvety bite gives the salad healthy richness. Dress this salad lightly with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon juice or whisk up a yogurt dressing to drizzle on top. Serve fall quinoa salad with roasted chicken, fish, or enjoy with extra greens as a salad!

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Fall Quinoa Salad

  • 1 cup quinoa prepared as directed
  • 2 cups fresh chopped kale
  • 2 cups roasted and diced butternut squash
  • 1 sprig sage finely chopped
  • ½ cup dates pitted and chopped
  • ½ cup roasted and salted pumpkin seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Prepare the quinoa as directed; you can optionally use chicken broth or orange juice instead of just water to cook the quinoa. Spread the cooked quinoa on a baking sheet so it can cool. Roast the butternut squash in advance. Cut it in half, core out the seeds, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the halves cut side up on a baking sheet and roast for 35-45 minutes or until fork tender at 350F.

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Once the squash is cool enough to handle gently peel off the outer skin and dice the squash in cubes; set aside. Chop the kale, dates, and sage. Combine the ingredients and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I also thought an apple cider vinaigrette could work well with this dish, but alas I did not have any apple cider vinegar handy.

cooked-quinoadateschopped-kale

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