My introduction to farro might have been almost a decade ago however I was reintroduced to it earlier this year via the local megamart deli counter. They sell a farro salad with finely chopped vegetables that was quite tasty. Once I located a good source of farro I started experimenting with combinations for salads until I found one I liked.
Farro and Cauliflower Salad
Prep time: 20 minute
Total time: 25 minutes
1/2 head cauliflower
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small zucchini
1 red pepper
4 oz. shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs such as chives or parsley
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces, no bigger than 1/2″. Toss with the tablespoon of olive oil, sprinkle generously with salt and pepper, and transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Prep the rest of your veggies. I quarter the zucchini, removed the seeds and then cut it into 1/4″ pieces. Same goes for the red pepper. I also cut the shredded carrots into smaller pieces.
Toast the pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat until just fragrant. Transfer to your serving bowl and set aside.
Make a basic vinaigrette from the shallots, mustard, vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Combine farro, veggies and herbs with the pine nuts. Toss to combine and then drizzle with the Vinaigrette. Toss some more until well combined. Enjoy.
Both the farro and cauliflower can be prepared in advance, even the day before.
Last month I made a dish and this recipe appeared on the next page of the cookbook. I dismissed it until my husband said he thought it sounded interesting. I’ll give anything a try once so even though it seemed like an odd combination I gave it a try.
The result was garlicky, crunchy and colorful. Give it a try sometime.
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1/4″ x 2″ strips
1 cup 1/4″ bias-cut celery
1 cup pitted green olives, quartered
kosher salt and black pepper
Fill a large pot with 6 quarts of water and set it over high heat. While it heats you can make the dressing by combining the first 4 ingredients with a pinch of salt and 10 grinds of black pepper. Set the dressing aside and prep the other ingredients.
When the water has reached a boil add 1 1/2 tablespoons of kosher salt. Allow it to return to steady boil and add the cauliflower. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until a piece is just tender to the bite. Add the pepper strips and cook for 1 more minute. Drain or use a sieve to capture all of the cauliflower and peppers. Transfer to a paper towel lined bowl and allow to drain for a couple of minutes.
Remove the paper towel, add the celery and olives, and stir until well mixed. Drizzle the dressing over the vegetables and toss until well coated. Allow to sit for at least 20 minutes or up to an hour. Serve at room temperature; toss a couple of times before serving to redistribute any dressing that accumulated at the bottom of the bowl.
The original recipe, from Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates, included raw red onion, which I find too sharp so I left them out. Next time I might try giving the onion a quick soak in ice water; it is reported to mellow the sharp flavor I don’t like.
Growing up there were always 3 side dishes on the table for ‘holiday’ dinners. One was mashed potatoes; the other two were something green and then something not green. Two green side veggies was just not done. Salad didn’t count by the way. Don’t ask me why, it just didn’t.
As an adult I try not to have two green veggies as side dishes. Witness the traumas inflicted upon our childhood psyche without effort or intent. 🙂 Carrots get boring, yellow summer squash is for summer time and pureed butternut squash leaves me wanting something more. Today I turned to cauliflower; which I would normally roast. We were roasting asparagus though and I didn’t want all matchy-matchy side dishes. I never claimed my psyche was undamaged.
Sauteed Cauliflower with Pancetta
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 25 minutes
1 head cauliflower, core and leaves removed, cut into 1″ pieces
6 oz. pancetta, 1/8″ dice
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
kosher salt & cracked black pepper
Place in a steamer basket set in a pot and fill with water to just below the basket. Bring water to a boil. Spread cauliflower around basket, sprinkle with salt and steam for 5 minutes. Cauliflower will still have a bit of give to it.
While the cauliflower steams heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat with the diced pancetta in it. Cook for ~5 minutes until fat is rendered from the pancetta; the pancetta should be crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to a paper towel lined dish and set aside.
Add olive oil to the skillet to increase total fat to about 3 tablespoons. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Heat over low heat until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
Add steamed cauliflower to the skillet. Toss to coat with oil. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring every minute or two.
Check cauliflower for doneness. When done to your liking add the crisped pancetta, toss to combine and taste; add salt & pepper as desired.
Transfer to a warmed bowl and serve.
I used an orange hued cauliflower. Purple, green or even the original off-white would work just as well. Of course if you use green then you might end up with 2 green veggie side dishes. The horrors.
Bacon can be substituted for pancetta; just cut it into thin strips. You’ll likely get more fat from the bacon. Drain off all but 3 tablespoons before adding the cauliflower.
If the skillet becomes a bit dry while cooking the cauliflower you can add a tablespoon of water after stirring.
Have you ever been certain that you had some pantry staple and discover when you are pulling all the ingredients together before cooking that one is missing? Oops. The recipe I was following called for saffron, something we usually have on hand. I did not take into account the fact that my husband had been using it in focaccia however so the cupboard was bare. I looked for turmeric and that was missing as well. As I contemplated my spice options I noticed a spice blend, guessed at an amount and gave it a go. The results were well received. Guests noted a pleasant but not overpowering bit of heat. Lovely.
Cauliflower and Shells
Prep time: 25 minutes
Total time: 45 minutes
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1 head cauliflower, florets and core cut into small, even-sized, pieces
Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta.
In another pot, fitted with a steamer basket, steam the cauliflower for about 3 minutes. Taste – it should be toothsome with a bit of crunch left. Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and set aside. Drain pot, wipe clean and return it to the stove.
Heat the oil in the pot over medium heat. Add the onion with a large pinch of salt. Stir in the oil and cook until the onion softens, 5-6 minutes.
Add the garlic, pepper flakes, spice blend and about 1 tablespoon of parsley. Stir to incorporate and cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add the cauliflower, another large pinch of salt and combine. Add 1 cup water and cover. Cook for 5 minutes. Taste the cauliflower; if it is done to your liking then remove from the heat and keep warm.
While the cauliflower is cooking you can cook your pasta in well salted water. Drain, return it to the large pot and mix in the remaining parsley.
When both pasta and cauliflower are cooked combine, mix and taste for seasoning. Adjust to your taste and serve.
If I didn’t have the Mural of Flavors spice blend I’d cry. Then I’d mix together 1 tsp. dried thyme, 1 tsp. ground black pepper, 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary, 1/2 tsp. ground coriander and the zest from a lemon or orange. Use 2 teaspoons of that and save the rest. Finally I’d make a trip to Penzey’s to get more of the spice blend; it is that good.
This recipe breaks down into 4 basic steps once the prep work is done – make pesto, roast cauliflower, boil pasta and combine. If you cut the cauliflower small enough it disappears a midst the pasta and pesto. That’s not a bad thing if you are feeding children or the cauliflower-phobic.
While I made this dish to be served hot/warm it could also work as a cold salad.
3 lbs. carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4″ slices (on the bias)
3 cups vegetable broth
1 15 oz. lite coconut milk
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup chopped cilantro or parsley (optional)
Place onions in a food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a bowl.
Place peppers in the food processor and pulse until finely cut. Transfer to a strainer to remove as much moisture as possible.
Combine the spices in a bowl and stir until well blended.
Prep remaining vegetables and set aside.
Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat for 3 minutes, or until smoking.
Add the onions and drained peppers along with a good pinch of kosher salt. Stir in the oil to coat and allow to cook for ~5 minutes until softened. Add the ginger and garlic; cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds, a minute at most.
Add the spice blend and stir into the onions/peppers. Allow to cook for about a minute, stirring a few times to prevent burning.
Add the carrots and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 5 minutes
Add the coconut milk, cauliflower and drained tomatoes. Bring back to a simmer, recover and cook for 15 minutes
Add the frozen peas and cook to heat them through, about 5 minutes.
Garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley (if desired).
You may ask why I process the the onions and peppers separately. I found that the peppers produced so much liquid when chopped in the food processor that I wanted to strain that off so the dish didn’t have to work at evaporating the liquid. I actually took the pepper liquid, and the drained tomato liquid, combined them in a small pan, and simmered them until they reduced to about 1/3 of the original volume. I added that into the curry along with the coconut milk. I really didn’t notice them in the final product so I left that out of the recipe text.
This recipe is adapted from a great book I picked up years ago named Something for Everyone. The premise was to provide recipes that would make a dish for a family of vegetarians and non-vegetarians from one recipe. It appears to no longer be in print.
I found this recipe in Joy of Cooking a few weeks back while looking for carrot recipes. No carrots here but cauliflower is near carrots alphabetically and this caught my eye.
The spinach makes a nice addition to what would otherwise be a rather beige dish. We enjoyed it over hot rice.
Cauliflower, Potato and Spinach Curry
Prep time: 20 minutes
Total time: 60 minutes
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite size pieces
2 Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
2 Tbsp. sweet curry powder
1 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and rough chopped
3 lg. garlic cloves, rough chopped
1 2-3″ piece of ginger, peeled and minced
2 Serrano chiles, seeded and minced
2 medium onions, 1/4″ dice
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 14 oz. can lite coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 16 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
12 oz. spinach, stems removed and chopped into bit size pieces
Prep all your ingredients before you start cooking. Chop the cauliflower, dice the potato, slice the apple, etc. Measure out oil & water, open the cans, drain the chickpeas. It really makes things easier when you start working at the stove.
Combine the curry powder and flour in a small bowl. Stir to combine and set aside.
3/4 fill a large sauce pan with water and bring it to a boil. Fill a separate bowl with cold water (few ice cubes would help but aren’t necessary).
While the water comes to a boil combine the apple, garlic, ginger and peppers in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Processor for 10-15 seconds to finely chop the apple and combine.
Once the water is boiling add the cauliflower, return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. When 5 minutes is up remove the cauliflower from the hot water and transfer to a the cold water bath.
Add the cubed potatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Transfer these to the cold water bath as well.
In a large pot heat the oil over medium heat until it shimmers. Add the chopped onions and apple/garlic/ginger/pepper mixture. Stir to coat and cook until the onions begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.
Add the curry powder/flour mix and stir to coat the vegetables. Cook for ~3 minutes to bloom the spices in the curry powder and cook out the raw flour taste.
Add the coconut milk, water and salt. Stir and bring to a boil.
Drain the cauliflower & potatoes; add them to the curry along with the chickpeas. Return to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
Dump the spinach on top of the curry and cover the pot. Let the spinach steam for a minute then stir it into the curry. Cook for 3-5 minutes; you want the spinach cooked but not lifeless.
Taste and adjust salt & pepper as you wish. Serve.
I’m always surprised by how much green comes off of spinach when you rinse them properly. Other greens can easily be substituted for the spinach.
The recipe seems to have a lot of steps. OK, the recipe has a lot of steps. The boiling/shocking steps can be a bit of a pain however I think it helps with the overall texture of the dish. You could probably skip the food processor if you want to grate the apple and chop garlic, ginger and peppers fine yourself. The end result is definitely worth the effort, at least in our opinion.