When I was a child my mama was very concerned that I would turn into a large grain of basmati rice. This was because for many years it was largely all I ate. My mama’s fluffy rice served with toasted nuts, herbs and yoghurt was all I needed for much of my tiny years and even now, I am happy to eat just this. And I think that I now cook it just as tastily as she did. My husband always smiles when he comes home to find that we are having this dish because it tells him just the kind of day I have had.
Autumn is a great time of year for warm salads. It’s not very warm outside, but it’s also not too cold yet. Leafy summer salads don’t appeal, but neither does hot stews, so this salad is the perfect gateway between the seasons. This warm salad is especially autumnal with the beautiful green and purple cauliflower. I love roasted cauliflower, as you will have read in a previous post, as it reminds me of the exceptionally tasty, but not so healthy deep-fried cauliflower I grew up with in my Mama’s very Middle Eastern kitchen. Roasting gives you all the flavour and texture, but it supremely better for your health.
A lot of children do not like cauliflower. I was not one of them. Growing up cauliflower was always one of my very favourite vegetables. In Palestine cauliflower is often deep-fried and served on its own or baked into rice dishes with other deep-fried vegetables. I remember I would always ask my mother to have a few fried pieces before she would bake them into the rice, and she would always let me have at least one piece. Although cauliflower does taste delicious when fried, it is over processed and not very healthy.
I have developed this recipe to have the same crispy texture and the same amazing flavour without the unhealthy fats and without the frying. This meal is so tasty and healthy, that I know it will become a staple of your mid-week easy dinner repertoire. One of my favourite things about this dish is that it is so pretty.
For this recipe I use both white and romanesco cauliflower, and they look gorgeous when cut up amongst the red onion and basil.
The bright green, white and purple of the dish are intoxicatingly attractive and really make you want to eat it (and the same goes for kids). The very sight of it immediately transports you to bright happy summer days.
for the cauliflower
½ white cauliflower
½ romanesco cauliflower
1 red onion
6 sprigs of basil
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 pinches of pink Himalayan salt
For the rice
1 cup brown rice
4 cups water
¼ cup peeled almonds and pinenuts, toasted
4 sprigs of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 pinch of pink Himalayan salt
1. Preheat oven to 200c
2. add the water, rice, salt to a pan over a high heat until boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes
3. chop the cauliflower and onions and mix in a baking tray with the basil, olive oil and salt, and put in oven for 40 minutes, turning occasionally
4. once ready, serve rice on a bowl and garnish with the nuts and mint and serve with the cauliflower.