Sunday, March 13, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower and black vinegar, or with harissa vinaigrette

When I was growing up, the only dietary laws that we observed was "no lamb" and "no garlic."  When my parents got married, my mother asked my father's parents if she should keep a kosher kitchen for them, a very typical decision for this generation.  Although my grandmother was a confirmed atheist (of the "What has God done for me lately" variety so perhaps she just thought that he wasn't up to the job) she kept an impeccably kosher kitchen for my grandfather's sake. However, they said that it wasn't necessary, and we had pretty much everything in our house.  (My grandmother ate what my mother prepared, and my grandfather brought his own food, particularly as he got older.)  Everything, that is, except for lamb and garlic which my mother detested. Of course, both my brother and I adore lamb and especially garlic, but that is how life works.

When my parents came for dinner a few weeks ago I was going to make a roasted cauliflower salad with preserved lemon and harissa vinaigrette as one of the appetizers.  But, our harissa is full of garlic -- you can really smell it when you open the jar-- so I decided to try something else.  I had read an online review of Marcus Samuelsson's new restaurant Red Rooster, that mentioned a roasted cauliflower with black Chinese vinegar and sumac, so I tried this.  Not bad....

Roasted cauliflower with black vinegar and Mediterranean seasonings

To see how I prepare roasted cauliflower, click here.  Then, all you do is drizzle the cauliflower with about 2 tablespoons of good, strong olive oil, and season it with large pinches of za'atar, sumac, Maldon sea salt (go light, depending on how much you cooked it with) and Aleppo pepper.  Toss. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of Chinese black vinegar (if you can't find this, Worcestershire sauce is a barely acceptable substitute, but don't use the salt then) and some roasted sesame seeds.  You can substitute roasted pine nuts for the sesame if you want, or use both. Toss again and serve as an appetizer or side dish.

Roasted cauliflower with harissa vinaigrette  

This is what I would have made had my mother not been coming to dinner.  It is really good and a very nice dressing for other roasted vegetables. Remove the pulp from a small preserved lemon, and remove the seeds from the pulp.  Chop the pulp into a paste, put it in a small dish, and mix in a teaspoon or more of harissa. If you want a very Tunisian flavor, mix in 1/2 teaspoon ground caraway seeds.  Drizzle in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar.  Toss with the cauliflower.  Shred the preserved lemon skin and toss it in, along with a handful of chopped coriander leaves.  That's it.

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