So winter is in full swing.
Rain is falling, skies are darkening and extremities everywhere are feeling like they’re about to fall off. And during winter a garden salad just won’t cut it for me; I need my salads to be hearty and filling with big punchy flavours. Say hello to my new favourite winter salad, the turmeric-roasted cauliflower, crispy leek and pomegranate salad.
It’s based on a turmeric-spiced chicken pilaf my family loves but given that I had neither rice nor chicken I had to get a little creative. And if Ottolenghi can roast cauliflower and make it delicious, well then by golly so can I!
Roasting cauliflower is not something I would have ever though to do before acquiring one of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks but it’s a beautiful way to serve an otherwise mediocre vegetable. The key to making cauliflower delicious (other than covering it in cheese sauce…) is to not overcook it, and this recipe actually cooks the cauliflower twice but not for very long each time so that it doesn’t turn mushy and sulphurous. Little crispy, charred edges make the florets delightfully moreish
Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, to fight oxidative stress to our cells, and vitamin K, one of the direct regulators of our body’s inflammatory response. Turmeric has been used throughout history by Indian and Chinese healers for a variety of reasons, most commonly for its potent anti-inflammatory effect. There’s also preliminary research that suggest combining turmeric with cruciferous vegetables, like cauliflower, can reduce both the size and ability of the cells to spread in test animals with prostate cancer. Turmeric is also an excellent source of iron and manganese, and the absorption of curcumin, the main compound responsible for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, is significantly increased if you consume turmeric with black pepper.
This salad has everything I require in a winter salad – spicy cauliflower, charred leek, salty feta, fresh spinach and zingy pomegranate. Death to boring salads! It’s perfect as a main bulked out with some quinoa and chickpeas or served as a side dish to roasted meat. It’s the sort of salad that will make people question your sanity (“so you did what to the cauliflower?...”) and then praise your genius (“the spicy-salty-zingy combo is fantastic!”). Either way, it will make your life better. Maybe winter isn’t so bad after all.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad With Pomegranate & Crispy Leeks
1 small head cauliflower
1 tbsp olive oil, plus 1 tsp extra
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp allspice
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp sea salt flakes
1 leek, white part only,
100g baby spinach
1/2 pomegranate, deseeded
80g feta cheese
1) Preheat oven to 230 degrees Celsuis. Line a large oven tray with baking paper.
2) Break cauliflower into florets and steam, boil or microwave for 2 minutes or until just tender.
3) Combine olive oil, turmeric, allspice, garlic, pepper and salt, then pour over cauliflower. Toss to coat and spread cauliflower onto lined baking tray.
4) Thinly slice leek and toss with extra olive oil. Add to baking tray.
5) Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until leeks are beginning to char and cauliflower florets are starting to crisp at the edges (watch it closely so it doesn't burn!). Allow to cool slightly.
6) Meanwhile, arrange baby spinach on a large platter. Add cauliflower, leek, pomegranate seeds and crumbled feta. Pour over any remaining cooking oils and serve at room temperature or chilled.
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