I've come up with a lot of reasons not to cook or write lately. I could list them here, but it all kind of boils down to that I'm human and I get into a routine of making fried eggs for every meal when other parts of life feel hard and exhausting, just like the rest of us. This season turned over so fast. I feel like I've been trudging ahead at full speed, and suddenly I looked up and the naked tree I'd been staring at all winter through my kitchen window was filled with apple blossoms. A week later, and it's now full of green. I'm taking this as nature's way of telling me to slow down, get settled, and catch up with the season that I love so much. For me, that slowing down part always begins in the kitchen.
Before heading to the market, I scrolled through my Instagram feed in search of a little inspiration, and stopped at Andrea's photo of a big bowl of cauliflower 'couscous', topped with all of my spring favorites. I love her photos and her recipes, and am seriously in awe of how she somehow balances blogging and farming full time. From a single photo, I felt that familiar feeling of excitement pump through my veins – I had to make this, today, right now, as soon as possible. For some reason, I didn't want to peek at how she prepared this dish – the idea of seeing her photo, grabbing some ingredients and seeing how similar, or not, our versions ended up felt more exciting.
As a kid, I rarely ate cauliflower. We generally only crossed paths at the kind of family gathering where someone brought one of those already prepared vegetable trays – tasteless celery, baby carrots, cold cauli florets and a tub of ranch dressing. Or sometimes it would show up steamed at dinner and I'd have to pick my way around it. But my feelings for cauliflower have come a long way, and over the past few years it's become a staple in my diet and the star of many of my favorite meals. And since I discovered that this crunchy cruciferous vegetable could be transformed into something so soft and fluffy and delicious, I'm more often than not willing to choose it over a scoop of rice.
My version didn't turn out that differently from Andrea's. She added parsley, walnuts and pumpkin seeds, while I opted to spice the couscous with cumin, garam masala and then top it with pine nuts. I added my standard vinaigrette while she kept things simple with a squeeze of lemon. The feta adds a nice tanginess, and the peas and radishes made me feel like I hadn't missed out on spring after all. And because the fried-egg-for-every-meal rut is one I'm not ready to dig myself out of anytime soon, I added one on top for good measure.
Spiced Cauliflower Couscous with Peas, Radishes, Feta and Mint
Recipe very much inspired by Dishing Up the Dirt.
> 1 head cauliflower
> 1 bunch radishes (about 1 cup, thinly sliced)
> 1 bunch mint
> 1.5 cups peas
> 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
> 1 cup feta
> 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
> 1 teaspoon cumin
> 1 teaspoon garam masala
> 2 tablespoons olive oil
> Juice of 2 lemons
> 1 teaspoon grainy mustard
> 1 teaspoon honey
> Salt and pepper to taste
> Optional fried eggs for topping
1. Chop the cauliflower into quarters, trim away the greens, and break apart the florets. Transfer the cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until it's completely broken down into rice-sized granules. Be careful not to over mix – you don't want it to be pureed.
2. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Transfer the cauliflower couscous to the pan, add the cumin, garam masala, salt, pepper, and half of the red pepper flakes. Let cook until it's lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in the pine nuts and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes. Be careful not to over cook – you want the rice to stay light and fluffy, not mushy.
3. While the couscous is cooking, thinly slice the radishes and mint. Transfer to a large bowl, and add in the couscous, peas, and feta, and stir until combined.
4. Prepare the dressing: add lemon juice, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil and red pepper flakes to a small jar. Shake until combined. Drizzle over the couscous and stir until coated.
5. Serve as is, or top with a fried egg.