CAULIFLOWER TACOS WITH PICKLED VEGATABLES
We don’t always want what’s good for us. And if you don’t think it through, you might believe it’s because “naughty” and “nice” are enemies.
But it just ain’t so. “Naughty” and “nice” can be best friends. And they should be, because eating fruits and vegetables don’t just make you healthier, they make you happier. Want proof?
The reason is truly simple when it comes to food. Things that are good for you, and things that are bad for you, are what you eat if they are delicious.
Especially if they are the kind of delicious that you cannot describe.
Enter my roasted cauliflower soft taco.
OTTOLENGHI’S TO BLAME
Yotam Ottlolenghi is still not yet the household name he deserves to be. But you’ve been eating his food for a long time, if you eat out. That’s because chefs adore his approach to bringing out flavor that tastes simultaneously exotic and exactly like home cooking.
What he does with cauliflower is the perfect example. He does cauliflower steaks with za’atar — and also does them with a walnut-caper salsa. He’s got a ridiculously delicious pomegranate, pistachio and cauliflower salad. And a cauliflower soup that will change your life. And cauliflower curry. He’s been roasting cauliflower forever and adding stuff to it that’s addictive.
Restaurant chefs love it, and serve it.
But Ottolenghi’s to blame not for cauliflower, but for spreading far and wide the kind of cooking I’ve loved long before I’d heard of him.
So, this is mine. All mine. But I feel sure Ottolenghi would love it. And you will, too.
DOWN AND DIRTY CAULIFLOWER TACOS
One whole head cauliflower cut into flat “steaks,” which you then cut into segments.
One 12-ounce jar of tomatillo salsa
Ground chili powder
Kosher salt to taste (a pinch or two)
Freshly ground black pepper
You’ll use the tomatillo sauce in two halves: 1/2 to braise the cauliflower steaks and 1/2 to serve with the tacos.
In your largest EuroCAST skillet:
Add 3 tablespoons olive oil into a skillet over medium high heat
Add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper, ground coriander, and chili powder. I’m not giving you detailed increments here, because it’s truly about the cauliflower so taste and adjust your way through it. Start small then build out.
Allow the cauliflower to really brown on all the sides, because that caramel goodness is GOLD! Gold, I tell you. It’s the flavor that brings saints and sinners to the same table.
Add in 1/2 the tomatillo sauce and reduce to low.
Let simmer until fork tender, about 15 minutes.
This is a taco. You know how to taco, kittens.
But here’s my way.
I dig a medium-sized flour tortilla that I char over an open flame
I add a good smear of sour cream, or full fat yogurt
I slice or dice up a perfectly ripe avocado
I slice tomatoes into wedges and…make sure you season both the tomato and the avocado :)
Then I slide in a bit of green salad-y crunch and color: Try arugula and romaine, broccoli slaw, crispy red radish, purple cabbage, wafer-thin slices of red onion — in any order or quantity that you desire
Pickled sliced carrots and radishes
Pickled red onions (yes, you can combine thin-sliced fresh red onion with picked red onion because they taste different)
IN A PICKLE, IF YOU’RE LUCKY
As for the pickled items, my long-time readers I love a quick pickle. It’s a staple, a go-to, a perfect magic trick to elevate anything — sandwiches, eggs, Asian foods of all kinds.
6 Persian cucumbers sliced thin on a mandolin
6 Medium size carrots sliced wafer thin on a mandolin
2 medium sized red onions sliced wafer thin on a mandolin
Place those in a colander and toss with 4 T. Kosher salt. Let sit for 30 minutes.
Rinse well and drain.
In the meantime, bring to a boil:
2 cups white vinegar
2 T. Kosher salt
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 Serrano peppers, split (if you dare — and you should for this taco)
Let that cool a bit.
Then, in a heat-safe bowl or glass Ball jar, pack the cucumbers (or carrots or onions) in and pour over the cooled vinegar.
Let that sit, ideally overnight, but it can be for less time (hence, “quick pickle”).
Put any of that pickled goodness on your cauliflower taco.
And you will have in your hands proof positive that you can be happier with vegetables, as long as they’re this delicious.
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