Tag Archives: Red onion

Warm cauliflower, feta & almond salad

Nestled within my lengthy list of first world irritations and peeves is one which frequently shoots right up the list when I’m baking or cooking: measuring dry ingredients in terms of volume.  I’m looking at you, USA.  New Zealand and Australia, you’re guilty, too, though admittedly a little less so.  Things like caster sugar and flour I can deal with (I still think it’s ridiculous, but at least it’s easy enough to convert to a weight).  It’s when we get to things like raisins, nuts, chocolate chips that it starts to be an issue.  Things that it makes no sense to measure as a volume.  And then we get to the truly ridiculous.  Exhibit A: “3 cups of bite-size pieces of cauliflower.”

“3 cups of bite-size pieces of cauliflower” doesn’t help me a great deal when I’m doing my shopping and cauliflower comes in whole heads, not bite-sized pieces.  Perhaps some people have the magical ability of looking at produce and being able to accurately estimate what volume it will take up when chopped up.  I do not have this magical ability.  This isn’t helped by the fact that I suck at anything that involves estimating.  In fact, I nearly didn’t try this warm cauliflower, feta and almond salad out, solely on account of the specified 3 cups of bite-sized pieces of cauliflower.

Luckily I did though, because this salad is truly delicious, both warm or cooled to room temperature.  It’s super versatile as well, and works on its own as a light meal, as a side dish or as a more substantial meal when mixed with couscous or pasta.  I’m a little on-the-fence about cauliflower – I like it in gratin form with a béchamel sauce and covered in cheese, but other than that I usually find it a little bland and boring.  I was more attracted by the rest of the salad’s ingredients – red onion, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, feta, almonds – than the cauliflower.  But I actually think that cauliflower works wonderfully here.  It adds a lovely crunch (a cooked crunch though, not a raw crunch), and since most of the other ingredients are quite flavourful, it helps mellow that out and balance them all together.  This is one of my new favourite warm salads.  Not only is it scrumptious, it’s easy enough to prepare and is entirely “from scratch.”  As a result, I’m submitting it to this week’s Made With Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I found 3 cups of bite-sized pieces of cauliflower to be just a little less than one cauliflower.  I measured it out of interest whilst I was preparing the salad.

Warm cauliflower, feta & almond salad

Serves 3-4 as a light meal or starter
Adapted from Dish, August-September 2012

This salad is an incredibly versatile dish.  It works as a light salad on its own or can be used as a side dish (the original recipe serves it with chicken).  It can also be turned into a more substantial meal by adding couscous or pasta, which is great for a packed lunch, since it’s delicious whether served warm or cooled.  As with any salad, the ingredient quantities are really more guidelines than set in stone.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower
2-3 tbsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1 large red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 unwaxed lemon
90 ml white wine
½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of chilli flakes
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes
Small handful parsley leaves stripped from the stems
Handful roasted skin-on almonds
2 tbsp capers, drained
150g feta

Directions

1.  Chop the cauliflower up into bite-sized pieces.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the cauliflower once hot with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until coloured in places.  Add 2 tbsp of water to the pan, cover and cook for a further 2 mins, occasionally shaking the pan.  The cauliflower should still be a little crunchy.  Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

2.  Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, dice the onion and set aside.  Return the pan to the heat, add a little more oil if required, add the onion and cook until soft but not brown.  As the onion is cooking, finely dice the garlic, and zest and juice the lemon.  Once the onion is soft, add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, wine, ground cumin and chilli flakes and 85 ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 mins.

3.  Meanwhile, finely slice the sun-dried tomatoes and chop the parsley.  Roughly chop the almonds and set aside, ready for serving.  Once the onion mixture is ready, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, capers and most of the parsley, followed by the cauliflower, and season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Mix well, remove from the heat and split the cauliflower mixture evenly between plates (or in a large serving bowl), crumble the feta over the top, followed by the roughly chopped almonds and any remaining parsley.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #3: Red onion & anchovy pasta

What was your first ever cookery book?  Does it immediately spring to mind or do you have to think about it?  Do you cherish it and remember flicking through the pages of exciting new recipes?  Do you still use it?  Are you wondering why I’m asking all these questions?  Well, this month’s Random Recipe has to come from our first ever cookery book.  After a bit of thought, I realised that mine is La Cuisine des paresseuses (Cooking for Lazy People).  Whilst it’s a great little book (full of quick and straightforward recipes – very useful as a student), its main sentimental value is that it was an 18th birthday gift from my French Aunt and Uncle rather than it being the first cookery book that I ever owned.  Before moving to university, I’d always used my mum’s many recipe books and cuttings, and consequently, on reading the challenge, I immediately thought of Je sais cuisiner by Ginette Mathiot, a stalwart of French cookery books.  I’ve flicked through that book countless times, and though I’ll be honest and admit that I didn’t cook that often, I did a fair amount of baking from it, so I’m definitely attached to it.  But I don’t actually own it.

So, cookery book memories aside, I got out La Cuisine des paresseuses.  Although I already used it for last month’s Random Recipe, I’m rather relieved, because as I’ve already mentioned, it’s full of straightforward recipes, and I have a dissertation deadline approaching far too rapidly for my liking, as well as a report and a presentation both due in for tomorrow.  (Before reading the challenge I had visions of having to attempt something insanely difficult from Le Larousse des desserts.)  The random number button on my calculator directed me to page 31, which was a recipe for… a basic vinaigrette.  Now I know I’d been hoping for something quick and easy, but really?  I wasn’t convinced that making a bog-standard vinaigrette quite fitted the idea behind the challenge, particularly since I always make my vinaigrette from scratch, and do so several times a week…  So I took the liberty of hitting the random number button again and turned to page 57: red onion and anchovy pasta.  Definitely sounds like student food…

As expected, the recipe was easy and fairly quick to prepare (hurrah!).  Most importantly though, it was tasty!  The red onions caramelised slightly to give a hint of sweetness, but this was counter-balanced by the anchovies, and the pine nuts added a subtle extra little something.  I was a little bit apprehensive about there being no mention of cheese anywhere in the recipe (pasta without cheese is an almost alien concept to me), but thankfully it turned out yummy anyway (which is probably why there was no mention of cheese in the first place – duh!).  My only issue with the recipe was the quantity that I ended up with – 250g of pasta to serve 2?  To be fair, the book doesn’t specify 2 of what – people, lions, elephants, dinosaurs?  With that in mind, it’s definitely one to make again!

Red onion and anchovy pasta

Serves 3-4
Recipe from La Cuisine des paresseuses

When I first made this recipe (thinking it served 2 people) I ended up with loads of leftovers.  Luckily it reheats very well in the microwave (though add a little bit extra oil so that it doesn’t dry out).  I also tried it with parmesan, which didn’t really add all that much to the flavour, so I’d say that’s optional.  If you don’t have any fusilli, any short pasta would work fine.

Ingredients

250g fusilli pasta
2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions
6 anchovy fillets in oil
4 small handfuls of pine nuts

Directions

1.  Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta according to the cooking instructions on the back of the packet whilst preparing the rest of the dish.

2.  Finely-chop the red onion and the anchovy fillets.  Gently fry the onion in the olive oil in a frying pan.  After about 5 mins, add the finely-chopped anchovies and some black pepper and continue frying until the onion has softened, but not browned (I kept mine going on a really low heat until the pasta was done).

3.  Whilst the red onions are cooking, grill or toast the pine nuts for a few minutes in the oven or in a small non-stick frying pan (be careful not to burn them).

4.  Once cooked, add the pasta to the onion and anchovy mixture and mix well.  Split the pasta between plates or pasta bowls and sprinkle with the pine nuts.

Enjoy!

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Random Recipe #2: Roasted tomato & red onion salad

Another month, and another food blog challenge that I happen to have discovered…  Now I already participate in three monthly food blogging challenges (Breakfast Club, Mac Attack and We Should Cocoa) and as much as I love my blog and baking/cooking and posting new recipes, well, I am also supposed to be working on a dissertation.  A dissertation, I should add, that is worth a quarter of my final degree classification (no pressure).  So ya, three challenges are quite enough – priorities and all that…

But here’s the thing – we all have cookbooks full of recipes that, despite our best intentions, we never quite get around to trying out.  And Belleau Kitchen‘s Random Recipe challenge addresses exactly that: basically, it involves randomly picking a cookbook and then randomly picking a recipe within it, and then trying it out.  Genius!  So even though I’d decided to draw the line at three challenges, I couldn’t really not get involved in this one, could I?

So for this month, we had to line up our recipe books and pick the 18th from the left, which in my case was a French one, “La Cuisine des paresseuses,” which loosely translates as “Cooking for lazy people.”  It’s a lovely little book that my French Aunt and Uncle gave me for my 18th birthday (were they trying to tell me something?).  It’s full of tasty recipes that are straightforward and reasonably quick to prepare, which as a student, can be really helpful!  So I happily plucked it off the shelf, knowing that whichever recipe I landed on was unlikely to be particularly complicated or time-consuming in its preparation, meaning more time for dissertation-ing (totally a word).

The next step was to pick the actual recipe.  We’re supposed to flick through the book and stop randomly, but well, that’s not a particularly rigorous methodology (I won’t bore you with a mini analysis of the multiple sources of bias), so I had to be all scientific and use my trusty calculator to generate a random page number: page 42.  There were two recipes on this page, neither of which I’d tried before, so I had a choice between a roasted tomato and red onion salad or a tomato, broad bean and basil salad (page 42 happens to fall in the gloriously titled second chapter: “How to make a salad without dying of boredom.”  Could salad be the meaning of life?).  I was most tempted by the first option, because it’s a warm salad and it’s still pretty cold outside at the moment (after all, it is March).  This turned out to be a brilliant choice…!  Not only was it super easy and rather delicious, but it was quick to prepare (5-10 minutes to throw everything together) and I managed to read two papers whilst it was in the oven.  Hah!  Take that, dissertation.

Roasted tomato & red onion salad

Serves 2
Recipe from La Cuisine des paresseuses

The original recipe suggests either serving this salad as a side dish alongside, for example, fish, or as a starter or lunch with some goat’s cheese crumbled over the top and some good French bread.  I went for the second option, obviously with the added goat’s cheese, which actually works wonderfully because it perfectly balances the ever-so-slightly caramelised onions.  I sautéed the second portion the next day with some couscous (minus the goat’s cheese though) and that was scrumptious, too.  In a moment of sheer Frenchness, I automatically added garlic, even though it isn’t specified, and I also used some garlic-and-rosemary-infused olive oil that I happened to have.

Ingredients

4 firm tomatoes
2 red onions
1 clove garlic
4 sprigs of rosemary or thyme (or both!)
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil (I used garlic-and-rosemary-infused oil)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
50g crumbly goat’s cheese (optional)

Directions

1.  Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.

2.  Quarter the tomatoes and onions and scatter them into an oven-proof dish with the herbs (in sprigs), and the roughly hashed garlic.  Drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar.

3.  Bake in the oven for about 1 hour, gently mixing the dish’s contents after 30 mins.  Season with salt and pepper once roasted and remove the herb sprigs and bay leaves (I stripped the leave form one of the rosemary sprigs and sprinkled them back into the salad).  Serve as a side dish or allow to cool slightly before crumbling the goat’s cheese over the top (optional) and serving with some French bread on the side.

Enjoy!

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