Spring has finally sprung and we couldn’t be more indulgent in all things raw, fresh, clean and lighter. Winter wasn’t so bad but the few dips into the teens, with sweeping winds, and a wintery white kiss of a fantastic blizzard, invited good and soulful eating. At least in this casa. My pressure cooker came in super handy to whip out hearty meals in little time to counter the bitter cold which kept me locked in for 3 consecutive days. No regrets, though. Never have regrets when having an abidance of food means you put on a few pounds to keep you warm. At least you had food. And options. And an appetite.
While winter may have been mostly mild, the outlook for spring and summer is probably looking like a manner of uncomfortable intensity. And that means our bodies will crave light(er) foods that can still carry us through sweltering days.
I’m only projecting, however. I don’t know what the season’s forecast holds. If 77F the week before Spring is a sign, I’m then confident we can start thinking about eating options that’ll stand to what’s coming.
If you peruse the Web or any of the glossy print food magazines, you’ve probably come across some of eating and dining trends we’re all about to flock to. I like most of them, wondering when some will just go away, and wishing others would finally make a break through. I’m specifically loving on all things charred, thinking kale should be close to seeing its last days of modifications, and pressure cooking and flan becoming the IT factors in formidable kitchens.
Since I can control — thankfully — what I eat and what I share with my audience here or on the tube, I thought it’d be a great idea to kick off newness with a combination of the trends with some of my own desires.
As luck would go, CBS in Washington, D.C. called and asked me to chat about what we can indulge on this season; mostly in anticipation of Easter. I was delighted to create a plate of vegetables that reflect a welcome of change.
This pan seared cauliflower steak & couscous salad happened with no real intention. My only objective was to make something bright and vibrant with notes of sweetness and a bit of a bite. The cauliflower, also known a a lovely tree of life, is a solid base to hold a myraid of lovely add-ons. Not to mention a super low cal food that can fill you up. Of the trends, I particularly love the burnt oranges, something I’ve really gotten into lately. A finishing squeeze of OJ makes it all pop. And nothing quite like toasty nuts. Any kind of nut. In this case, the pine nuts are fatty enough to add some girth to the lightness of watercress and soft dill, which I used for fragrance and a bit of an unexpected punch. The lemony and zesty vinaigrette is the binder that that brings it all together in beautiful way. A way so appropriate to invite Spring.
I was so pleased, I asked the producer if we could forego the undisputed Easter staple: ham. He fought me a bit, thinking it’d be great for a Cuban native to discuss Cuba’s main meat attraction; after all, president Obama was in Havana the same week I was scheduled on.
I showed him a picture of the salad, teased with some of the ingredients, and he was in.
Because before my set assistant could ask what to do with the extra food, he had swiftly transferred the salad from my plate to a disposable one. Yep. He was ever so grateful I insisted on going in that direction.
And so can this salad. For the sake of now and lusting a different aesthetic from winter’s moody and dense plates, enjoy this ensalada.
Eat well, love unapologetically, pray with true intention, and take care of yourself.
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Cauliflower “Steaks” and Couscous Salad with Lemon Mustard Honey Vinaigrette
- 1 head cauliflower cut into 1.5″ “steaks”
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 orange, wedges
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/2 cup watercress
- Lemon mustard honey dressing
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cups uncooked couscous
- s/p to taste
Cut off cauliflower stem and discard. Cut the edges of flower to create somewhat of a triangle. Cut 1.5″ wide “steaks” For this recipe is only for two. A full sized cauliflower should be able to yield 4-5.
Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. Place cauliflower steaks in skillet and cook, browning on each side, about 6-8 minutes, or until tender enough to bite not but falling apart. While cooking, season with salt and pepper. While the steaks area cooking prepare couscous according to package instructions and set aside. Using a smaller non-stick skillet, toast the pine nuts, about 3 minutes. Set aside. Using the same skillet, lightly char orange wedges to desired point. You can also char them on an open flame, using tongs and turning on each side.
When steaks are done cooking, using tongs, transfer steaks to a serving plate. Assemble salad as desired, leaving dressing for last. Squeeze fresh orange juice all over top.
- Juice from one lemon or 5 tbsp
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard with seeds
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- 1.5 ” lemon zest
- salt to taste
Add all of the ingredients to a medium bowl and whisk until well blended. Adjust for lemon and consistency according to your palate and desired taste. Serve immediately or chill for about 30 minutes.
*this dressing will keep for about 3 months.