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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Broccoli Salad with Pumpkin Seeds

crunchy-broccoli-salad

Broccoli salad with raisins and toasted pumpkin seeds in yogurt vinaigrette feels like an Indian summer dish. In NYC the buzz has been that summer is over. Yet the last few days have felt a surge of warmth again, and it feels like I’m holding onto the last humid hints of summertime. I have learned that cooking in a tiny NYC kitchen requires diligence and planning. When I used to blog in Miami I bought ingredients on a whim and had ample storage space for them too. Now when I cook I aim to use up all of the ingredients purchased before I venture out to buy more and more.

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When broccoli is raw it can be bold like a radish- very crisp and with a slight bitter tang to its tiny floral cruciferous heads. For me the smell of cooking broccoli is slightly sulfuric and almost garlicky. Since I am ever so lazy and despise doing dishes I decided to make a one bowl salad- which means I’d be eating the broccoli raw- no extra pots for me to wash. After making a few of my favorite recipes I had some odd ingredients waiting to be tossed together to make this healthy and crunchy broccoli salad.

fresh-lemon fresh-scallion

I wanted a no-fuss recipe so I chopped the broccoli head up into little green florets that resembled a broken bouquet on my cutting board. The tangy yogurt vinaigrette, sweet raisins, and salty pumpkin seeds softened the sharp vegetable-like quality of the broccoli as it marinated in the fridge and became tender. This broccoli salad is a perfect summertime ‘last hurrah’ side dish or picnic salad. As they’ve been saying, winter is coming, and fall dishes await, but for now I’ll enjoy these last few days of a New York summer.

bite-of-broccoli-salad-

Broccoli Salad with Pumpkin Seeds in Yogurt Vinaigrette

  • 4 oz. low fat green yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp water
  • Freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 1 bunch chopped fresh tarragon
  • ½ large shallot diced
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • 1 head broccoli large stalked removed
  • ½ cup toasted and salted pumpkin seeds

Whisk together the first 6 ingredients to make the tangy yogurt dressing. Add the chopped fresh tarragon, stalks removed, and the finely diced shallot. Whisk the ingredients together again and add the raisins. Allow the raisins to plump up in the dressing while you chop the broccoli.

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Remove the large stalk and discard. Cut off the broccoli florets from their stalks and set aside. Cube the remaining broccoli stalks and toss in the bowl with the dressing. Cut the broccoli florets down to small bite size pieces. Add the rest of the broccoli into the salad dressing and stir well. Place in a container with a fitted lid or seal securely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

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Allow the crunchy broccoli salad to marinate in the dressing and soak up all of the delicious flavors for at least 2 hours before serving chilled or at room temperature. The broccoli will soften and become more flavorful. This salad serves around 4 and would be perfect for a fall picnic or light lunch side dish.

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Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese

braised-sprouts

Brussels sprouts braised in balsamic vinegar and brown sugar topped with creamy goat cheese makes for a simple and flavorful side dish. The soft and tangy goat cheese will perfectly complement the sweet vinegary glazed sprouts. I love Brussels sprouts, but I am tired of dining out and ordering Brussels sprouts only to find that they are doused in soy and oil or sprinkled with loads of bacon and you guessed it- more oil.

trimmed-and-halvedseared-to-perfection

The air filled with the scent of balsamic vinegar as it steamed up from the hot pot, bubbling around the seared Brussels sprouts. Braise the tiny cabbages until al dente with onion, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and water. Top with goat cheese when finished and- BAM! Your taste buds will be treated to an explosion of flavor and deliciousness. Balsamic Brussels sprouts with goat cheese makes for a great side dish for the holidays, or you can enjoy them for dinner paired with grilled pork chops and a nice glass of wine.

goat-cheese!brussels-sprouts

Braised Balsamic Brussels Sprouts with Goat Cheese

Serves 4

  • 1 to 1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 small onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • Goat cheese for garnish
  • Salt and pepper

Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pot over medium to high heat. I used my Fontignac cast iron dutch oven. You want the pot to be hot to sear the sprouts and get some nice brown color on both sides. I did this in two batches as to not overcrowd and steam the sprouts instead. Set the sprouts aside and toss the sliced onions in to cook for 3-4 minutes (when I made this recipe I used diced white onions, but I decided thinly sliced onions would have been more optimal!).

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Add the Brussels sprouts back in and pour in the balsamic vinegar first. The vinegar should steam and bubble. Add the water, brown sugar, and some salt and pepper. Stir and scrape up of the brown goodness from the bottom of the pot.

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Reduce the heat to 3-4 and cook for 15 minutes or until reduced. If the liquid is taking too long to reduce then turn the heat on high. Top with creamy goat cheese and enjoy! The goat cheese will melt and soften the sweet balsamic glaze. Balsamic Brussels sprouts are an easy fall side dish that can be made in advance for a holiday or dinner party, simply top with the goat cheese after reheating.

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