Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Walnuts, and Raisins

I have two important things to say:

First, I try to always give credit where it’s due, which obligates me to credit this amazing salad to Julia, head chef at Haven’s Kitchen, even though I wish I could say that I came up with this one on my own.  A few Friday’s ago we were preparing food for a wedding rehearsal dinner, and while I was busy manning the deep fryer station – popping out zeppole’s, risotto fritters, and deep fried fingerlings to many hungry and happy diners – I noticed Julia making something amazing out of the corner of my eye.  I wasn’t too sure, but I was pretty sure I saw all of my favorite major actors: beautifully roasted cauliflower florets, chopped parsley, toasted nuts, plumped up raisins, and farro, one of my more recent grain obsessions.  After a few bites I knew I had to try and make some version of this salad, and I thought to myself, who better to make it for than my lovely mother, here on a visit from San Antonio?

Which brings me to my next important point: lunch with a fabulous lady!

Two champagne glasses and a hearty vegetarian meal = bliss!

Given my random work hours I was able to free up my Thursday and pull this together to have lunch with the leading lady in my life, my mama.  She loves vegetables and fruits like me, so I stewed up some roasted butternut squash soup with roasted wild mushrooms (yes that’s right, it’s sitting in the gorgeous Staub cocotte that my sister Yasmin bought for me for Xmas), roasted mushrooms on the side, and of course this yummy salad for which I’m about to give you the recipe.  And of course there is also champagne.  With my mother there will always be champagne.

Although we were quite stuffed after our lunch (there may have been some rolling and laying) we were both satisfied and felt that the salad had one of those magical abilities to fill you up yet make you feel lighter at the same time.

The recipe is for two, which is inevitable because of the size of cauliflower heads.  But it holds well for lunch or dinner the next day, and you can always make it to share with someone else, someone who is deserving of your amazing cooking!

With love,

Ashley

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Walnuts, and Raisins – Makes 2 servings

  • 3/4-cup farro
  • water or vegetable broth (amount varies according to farro package instructions)
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/2-cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes (you can also soak in tea if you want to get crazy)
  • 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley (save a few stems to cook with faro)
  • 1 lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place faro in a small saucepan. Cover with water, and add bay leaf if using. Cook according to package instructions.
3. Meanwhile, remove cauliflower stalk and cut florets into small, 1/4-inch pieces (you want them to become roughly the same size as the farro).
4. Place cauliflower on a lined baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Roast until cauliflower is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through roasting.
5. Place walnuts in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just starting to brown and become fragrant, about 4-5 minutes.  Remove bay leaf from cooked farro (if there is excess water in pot, drain farro in strainer).
6. In a bowl, combine farro, cauliflower florets, raisins, parsley and walnuts. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice from one half over salad. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Share with somebody you love or save the rest for lunch the next day.

Ground Walnut & Pomegranate Chicken Stew

I tried to take a pretty photo so you wouldn’t gasp in horror, because if you’re thinking it, just know you’re not the first: this dish has a tinge that can make you think of something you’d rather forget while you’re eating. It’s been a longstanding joke in Iranian culture, which is where this recipe comes from. But it’s just so delicious that I promise you’ll forget all about its color after one bite!

Once you’ve gotten over this fact hopefully you will start making it. And fortunately for everyone it is a cinch to make!  We start by grinding our walnuts in a food processor.  I swear this isn’t a plug but I’m so ridiculously happy that I have a Cuisinart CSB-77 SmartStick Hand Blender.  Basically, it’s everything you could ever need in one: an immersion blender, an electric whisk, and a food processor.  It even comes with a nice measuring cup!  So anyway, put your walnuts in a processor:

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Avocado, Smoked Salmon, and Grapefruit Salad

I don’t think I’m the only one in Paris who feels it, and I’ve noticed the change taking place very gradually.  After months of grey sky, moody waiters, and an overall grim outlook on life, the sun has finally graced us with her presence and Parisians from all corners have decided to come out of hibernation for endless cafés and the chance to  flâner (a particular word, hard to translate, generally meaning to stroll with no purpose).  It has been a particularly cold winter here, and after a consistent week of sun, I get the feeling that Paris will soon again be the  friendly and jovial place we know and love, rife with lovers embracing in parks and groups of friends sitting along the Seine around a bottle of wine, a baguette, and some fabulously stinky cheese.

This dish came to be born on a whim, when I myself was flâner-ing down rue de Bretagne in the 3rd arrondissement, trying to figure out what I would make my friend and I for dinner.  Since smoked salmon is extremely popular here (and considered quite the luxury), I decided that it would have to go in the mix.  A craving for an avocado here, and an urge to eat some grapefruit there, and voila! So is born a new recipe. 

This salad is at once light and refreshing, simultaneously satisfying that creamy craving, thanks to the avocado, and the desire to eat something healthy during the generally heavier winter months.  Plus, it’s a great way to make use of winter vegetables and fruits.

Just a note: I know that while endives are a dime a dozen here in Paris, and are used as commonly as celery is in America, it is not as easy to get in other parts of the world.  If you can’t find endives, you can easily substitute iceberg lettuce for the endive (that is actually what I had originally intended to use).  Just chop up the lettuce finely, and ignore the bit about placing it on an endive boat.

I am confident in this dish mainly because I’ve made it three times now, once for myself and two more times for my friends Diana and Annette, and we all agreed that this recipe is a keeper.  Although the list of ingredients is on the longer side (but sill reasonable), this salad is a cinch to pull together and will likely leave you feeling content yet not overly full.

Although I have said it before I believe there is no harm in saying it again: when making salads, please don’t skimp on the quality of the olive oil.  I personally bought a fruity olive oil coming from the Provence region of France, at a store here in Paris called Premiere Pression Provence.  Although it is impossible to say for sure, I am certain that this olive oil helped the salad go from tasty to something truly memorable.  So please, spend the extra few dollars/euros/currency to treat yourself to something grand!

Avocado, Grapefruit, and Smoked Salmon Salad – serves 1
1 endive
2 slices smoked salmon
1 handful toasted walnuts or slivered almonds, or both
1 small grapefruit
1 avocado
1-2 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
2 tablespoons olive oil

1.  Peel out the outer two layers of the endive (optional); set aside. Cut off the root and tip of the endive, and roughly chop the rest.  Place in a medium bowl.
2.  Dice the smoked salmon into small pieces, roughly equivalent of the endive pieces, and add to the bowl.
3.  Roughly chop the walnuts (or almonds if using), and toast in the oven at 400°F/200°C for 5 minutes or on the stove in a skillet. Once slightly cooled, add to the bowl with the salmon and endive.
4.  Cut a grapefruit in half.  Peel one of the halves, and remove the segments from the skin.  Chop the grapefruit segments and add to the medium bowl. 
5. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise, and remove the pit.  With a paring knife, divide the avocado halves (while still in the skin) into small cubes, and scoop it out with a spoon.  Place in the medium bowl.
6.  Make the sauce:  squeeze the juice of the remaining grapefruit half into a small bowl.  Add a pinch of salt, pepper, and freshly chopped dill.  Slowly whisk in olive oil until you have a consistency and taste that you like (probably 2 tablespoons).
7.  Toss the sauce and the remaining dill in with the ingredients in the medium bowl.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using, place the salad on the endive leaves for a prettier presentation.
Bon appétit!

Salade de Noix, Oranges Sanguines, et Anchois (Mesclun Greens with Walnuts, Blood Oranges, and Anchovies)

 

SCROLL DOWN FOR ENGLISH.

Tout d’un coup j’ai envie d’écrire en français, juste pour voir s’il y aurait éventuellement des français intéressés à ce que j’écris.   En fait la vraie raison pour laquelle j’avais envie d’écrire à vous mes chers français, c’est parce que l’inspiration pour cette recette vient d’un petit plat que j’ai mangé l’autre jour dans un resto très tendance en ce moment à Paris, un endroit sicilien n’ayant qu’une table et qui est à la base une épicerie.  Vous avez déjà deviné de quelle adresse je parle?  Ca ne m’étonnerait pas, mais sinon je vous le dit: La Tête dans les Olives, le “it” resto du 11ème arrondissement, ne servant que 5 individus maximum chaque soir, et utilisant uniquement des produits vendus dans le magasin.  Le concept m’a assez gêné au début; je ne voyais pas très bien comment cet établissement, qui fait vraiment le minimum pour préparer des plats (il y a deux plaques à chauffer et rien d’autre – pas de four, pas de micro-onde, sûrement pas de lave-vaisselle), pourrait demander 150 euros pour toute la table, sans pouvoir servir du vin. 

J’ai été donc très surprise d’y aller et de voir que ce restaurant tient à mes propres idéales dans la cuisine: c’est-à-dire qu’on n’a mangé que des choses simples et que des produits de la meilleure qualité.  Cédric, le propriétaire du resto, comprend bien ce concept et ne pourvoit que des produits siciliens qui sont conservés au meilleur moment: une variété énorme d’huiles d’olive, des tomates et des aubergines séchees, du miel sicilien et même de la ricotta salée. 

En entrée, j’étais ravie de goûter une combinaison d’ingrédients que je ne penserais jamais à mettre ensemble moi-même, celle des oranges sanguines et des anchois.  Ce mélange vous shoque peut-être, mais je vous garantie que le résultat est juste magnifique, l’harmonie parfaite entre sucré-salé.  Pour cette raison je savais qu’il fallait absolument refaire de ma propre manière cette combinaison, et ainsi est née cette salade, mettant en valeur cette harmonie idéale.

Vous pouvez évidemment modifier cette salade selon vos préférences, ajoutant par exemple des pignons de pin au lieu des noix.  Pour la sauce vous pouvez également remplacer l’huile d’olive par l’huile des noix.  Elle est très facile à préparer et c’est le repas parfait pour ceux qui en ont marre de manger des plats consistents d’hiver.  Bonne dégustation mes amis!

Salade de Noix, Oranges Sanguines, et Anchois  – pour 1 personne

1 poignée de noix
1 grosse orange sanguine
1 citron
Huile d’olive de bonne qualité
200 grammes de mesclun
4 filets d’anchois
1 cuillerée à café d’herbes de provence sechées

1. Hacher grossièrement les noix et les faire toaster dans un four ou dans une casserole jusqu’a ce qu’elles soient dorées.
2. Hacher un des filet d’anchois; réserver les 3 autres filets pour plus tard.
3. Couper l’orange en deux à la longueur. Dans un petit bol, mettre le jus d’une moitié de l’orange. Ajouter au bol 1 cuillerée à café de jus de citron et l’anchois haché. Ajouter 1 cuillère à soupe à la fois d’huile d’olive et mélanger jusqu’à ce que vous obtienniez une sauce qui vous plaît (il faudra ajouter à peu près 2-3 cuillerées à soupe d’huile d’olive). Assasionner avec du sel et du poivre.
4.  Verser la sauce sur la salade, les mettre sur une assiette. Parsemer avec des noix hachées.
5. Eplucher l’autre moitié de l’orange, et détailler en segments (voir la photo d’au-dessus). Mettre les segments sur la salade.
6. Couper les 3 autres filets d’anchois en 3 morceaux chacun, et les mettre sur les segments d’orange. Parsemez la salade avec les herbes de provence.

NOW IN ENGLISH!

Part of the reason I decided to write this post in French in addition to English is because, knowing that most people who read this blog are living in the United States, I sensed that this recipe may not be so well received on the other side of the Atlantic.  I, like most people living in the Americas, grew up with an aversion to anchovies, those hairy and sur-salé litte fish that I would find usually on a salad niçoise and which I would conveniently place on the edge of my plate, so it would not touch and contaminate the other ingredients.

However, upon my arrival in France I happened to try a dish which stole my heart and forever changed my opinion of these hairy sea creatures: pissaladiere, a dish hailing from the Provence region of France which ceremoniously marries caramelized onions, black niçoise olives, and anchovy fillets in a pie tart, and which is divine (I posted a recipe for pissaladière last year, but only in a large serving size, so I will try to toy around with it and reduce it down for one person). 

Since eating and making this pissaladiere several times, I now welcome anchovies with open arms and willing taste buds.  And it’s a good thing I changed my ways because if I hadn’t I would have missed out on the phenomenal flavor combination that I include in this salad.  A little background, if you will: after a 40-email long discussion with the owner of La Tête Dans les Olives, a Sicilian restaurant in Paris whose name translates to “head in the olives,” I was able to get a reservation for 4 friends and myself.  This restaurant, which is actually a Sicilian gourmet produce store and which installs one 5-person table for lunch and dinner in the middle of the tiny establishment, only serves food made with products they sell.  So for a night my friends and I travelled to southern Italy, enjoying salted ricotta, dried eggplants and tomatoes, a multitude of black and green olives, dried oregano, sautéed greens wrapped in zucchini and topped with pecorino-romano cheeese.

Photo Courtesy of Gina Anderson

For one of the starters, we enjoyed something I had never tried before: blood oranges cut up into segments, topped with anchovies and sprinkled with dried oregano and olive oil.  I was so impressed by the simplicity of this dish, which nonetheless packed in so much bite, that I set out almost immediately to adapt it to something more substantial in my apartment.  Thus was born this salad for which I give you the recipe below.  I added some chopped walnuts and made a dressing for the salad using orange juice, lemon juice, and 1 chopped anchovy (hey, don’t look at my like that, don’t you know that the best Greek salad dressings are made with chopped anchovies?).  However, feel free to adapt this as you wish: omit the anchovy filet or the lemon juice, and add white wine vinegar.  You could also substitute the olive oil for a nut oil, I’m thinking specifically of walnut oil in this case.

Either way, I hope you too will open up your mind and try using anchovies in your food, they add the perfect amount of saltiness without taking over the whole show.  Bon appétit, bonne dégustation, et surtout have a wonderful Wednesday! 

Mesclun Greens with Walnuts, Oranges, and Anchovies – serves 1
1 handful walnuts
1 large blood orange
1 lemon
good-quality olive oil
6-8 oz. (200 grams) mesclun greens
4 anchovy fillets (usually packed in olive oil)
1 teaspoon dried oregano, or herbes de provence
.
1. Roughly chop the walnuts, and toast them in an oven or in a medium skillet until browned evenly.
2. Roughly chop one of the anchovies, reserve the remaining three.
3. Chop the orange in half lengthwise. In a small bowl, squeeze the juice of one of the orange halves. Add about a teaspoon of lemon juice and the chopped anchovy. Slowly whisk in the olive oil about 1 tablespoon at a time, until you have a taste you like (you will probably want to add 2 to 3 tablespoons). Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. Toss the dressing with the mesclun and put on a plate. Sprinkle with chopped and toasted walnuts.
5. Peel the remaining orange half, and cut along the natural folds to get about six orange segments (see top photo). Arrange them over the mesclun.
5. Cut the remaining anchovy fillets into 3 smaller pieces each, and place over the orange segments. Sprinkle with the oregano, and more pepper if desired.

>Chopped Endive Salad w/ Toasted Walnuts

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This is a revised version of the last endive salad, and now that I’ve made it this way, I’m never going back. It tastes so good! The rich and nutty flavor of walnuts becomes much stronger when they are toasted, and they go so well with the tartness of the dressing.

Endive Salad - serves 1-2
for the dressing:
1 chopped garlic clove
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup olive oil

for the salad:
1 endive
1 handful walnuts

1.  To make the dressing, combine all of the ingredients in a small bowl and stir together until combined.
2.  Slice the endive in half lengthwise, then cut it cross-wise in 1/2-inch thick pieces
3.  To make the walnuts, toast your oven to 375 degrees and place the walnuts on a baking sheet.
4.  Toast the walnuts until slightly browned, about 8-10 minutes. 
5.  When they have cooled a bit, chop them up and toss them over the endives.  Pour on the dressing, et voila!

Now that I’m writing this, I realize that it might be a good idea, if you like this dressing, to triple or quadruple the quantity and store it in the fridge so that you don’t have to make it over every time you want to use it.

>Roasted Beets with Prunes, Mint, and Walnuts

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Another reason why France is amazing: their farmer’s markets. They are like nothing I’ve seen in the states – pig’s feet, veal tongue, blood sausage, fresh fish, every fresh fruit and vegetable you could deign to find in this season, and of course, lots and lots of cheese and bread.

So, while wandering the market this morning in a state of bliss, I saw some beets that looked really good, and I decided to buy some and test them out. They’re so delicious, I feel like I could sing about them!
Only recently have I discovered how amazing beets are. Their sweet and silky character makes them so unique – plus their purple color is so fun! In my opinion they’re also one of the easiest vegetables to prepare, because the less you do to them, the better they taste.

To make the beets how I made them here, you’ll need 1 large beet (or 2 small-medium beets), 3 prunes, a handful of walnuts, a lemon, and a sprig of mint leaves. Of course, if you want to make this for more people than yourself, you can easily increase the proportions.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and wrap the beet in aluminum foil. Roast the beet until tender, between 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. Take it out and let it cool off a bit. In the meantime, chop up your prunes and walnuts and put them in a small bowl. Once the beet has cooled down, chop it up and add it to the bowl. Slice open the lemon, and squeeze one half of the lemon over the bowl. This might be enough lemon juice for you – if not, add more from the other half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garnish with a mint leaf or two, and eat whenever you feel like it!

It’s such a light dish that you can probably eat it as snack if you’re hungry, as a side dish, or a light dinner with some bread or crackers.

Merci, et bon week-end!