If you've been hanging around these parts for some time now, you've probably heard all about my Thanksgiving family tradition.
It's around this time of year that I have a lot of conversations that go a little like this:
Person: "Thanksgiving is coming up ... I bet it's your favorite holiday, I bet you already have your menu planned."
Me: "Ummm, not exactly."
Person: "Oh stop. I bet you love to cook for everyone on Thanksgiving."
Me: "Ummm, no. Not really. Actually, we are going out to eat for Thanksgiving. We've been doing it for the past few years and I love it. I love to have someone else do the cooking, and I looooove that I do not have to do the dishes."
Person: *totally perplexed*
I have this same conversation about 10 time between October up until Thanksgiving, and I can completely understand the confused reaction I sometimes get. Every year I go through the ... I miss cooking for Thanksgiving, I am going to cook again this year ... and then I run it by Michael and he swiftly changes my mind. The truth is, we really enjoy going out with our family on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving for me over the past few years has become a holiday where me and the fam get spoiled. Someone else does the cooking, someone else scoops an extra serving of stuffing onto my plate, someone else makes an apples pie from scratch, and someone else gets to run the dishwasher more than one time during the day. I get to relax, my family members get to relax, and we get to enjoy some really good food that someone else made. I love it.
Even though I am not cooking this year, that does not mean I will not share a few things that would be on my menu if I was cooking. This colorful dish would definitely be on the menu.
In the past when I have cooked, I like to keep things simple and traditional, but I also like to modernize classic dishes. My definition of modernize in the kitchen is all about using less processed ingredients, less butter, less ...... marshmellows.
This is a healthy, colorful dish that combines broccoli and cauliflower, two vegetables that you would normally find on a Thanksgiving table. Tahini and pomegranates are not ingredients that are normally found on a more traditional Thanksgiving table, but I think once they make their debut, they will be a welcomed addition.
Pomegranate seeds have that wonderful pop that adds an ever so slight bit of tart sweetness. They also add a festive, colorful tone to the dish. The tahini adds a creamy element without adding cream. This side dish won't leave you feeling overindulged.
This takes about 20 minutes to prep and cook, so it is the perfect, easy addition to a big meal. You can also pre-cook the broccoli and cauliflower in the cast iron pan, and wait to put it in the oven to warm up right before you are ready to serve.
Purple cauliflower used to be somewhat of an anomaly, but recently I've been seeing it everywhere. Grocery stores, farmers markets, sometimes it has taken the place of white cauliflower all together. I hope it is as easy for you to find as it was for me. While it has the same flavor as the white, it really make the colors in this dish explode off the plate.
I live a little less than a mile from the Union Square Greenmarket, which, if you're not familiar, is an open-air farmers market in NYC that is open a few days out of the week. It's where I get most of my produce.
On Mondays, I strap on some comfy shoes, grab my reusable bags, and walk (or bike) over there with my list of produce for the week. I've been doing this for several months now, so I have started to know the market well, along with some of the vendors and farmers. I have my routine down and my favorite stops.
Mondays have become my favorite day because the market is slightly less crowded in the early morning, and a couple of my favorite vendors are there on that day. One place has quickly become my #1 favorite, because they're organic produce is some of the best looking, and they always have have fun things like watercress micro greens and romanesco cauliflower.
The other day, I picked up a gorgeous head of broccoli and several cauliflower heads from them, and as I was checking out I had a little conversation with a woman who runs the farm. She told me how hard it was to organically grow broccoli and cauliflower and that in order to keep them safe from little critters without spraying them, she (herself) would go around and pick off little munching caterpillars and bugs by hand.
Really? Wow. Awesome. That's some serious dedication.
I told her that there were no words to express how much I appreciated that. I thanked her and walked away feeling grateful that there are people out there, like this lady, who care so much about the quality of food that they provide for people. She rocks.
Cauliflower has been on my grocery list pretty much every week since the Fall came around. I cannot seem to get enough of it. But this soup was not originally about the cauliflower. It actually started with the sage.
Last weekend before making my market list, I had harvested the last of the herbs from my garden - half to be frozen to use in smoothies, and the other half I was going to dry. But as I was cutting my herbs, I realized I had so much sage. So much. Probably because I hardly used sage in the summer, but now the sage needed my love.
I've beena little obsessive with the sage over the past week. Sage with roasted vegetables, sage in salad, fried sage. Yes, fried sage. It sounds un-healthy, but it really is not. Lightly frying sage just makes it a crispy and flaky and mellows out the sage-ness, so it goes really well over soups and salads.
When it comes to soup and most other things, I like lots of toppings. I love the contrast in tastes and textures. Every bite is something different, so it keeps things interesting. This soup has a lot of toppings, starting with that insanely tasty fried sage. You can add more or less depending on your tastes, but I'd err on the side of more. You'll be happy you did.
Cauliflower, sage, and hazelnuts are all such signature tastes of Fall, when you put them together, it's like a Fall explosion. They were all meant to be, together, in one big bowl, especially around this time of year.
I feel like my recipes have been a bit of a celebration of vegetables recently …. and I like it that way.
Part of my passion behind this blog is showing that vegetables can be the star, instead of just a side. This recipe is the perfect example, it take the cauliflower and makes it a big bright superstar.
I mentioned a couple of recipes ago that I get a lot of inspiration from eating out, and our meal at the Fat Radish totally inspired this dish. We had a whole roasted cauliflower as an appetizer, and I just loved how they served it whole instead of chopped up into florets. It was so much more exciting. I thought with just a few added extras, this would make an impressive entree.
Michael and I shared this for lunch last week. I served it over some millet and tossed some currants on top. Each with fork in hand we tore into this cauliflower, and finished it in about 7 minutes. We both agreed, it was an awesome meal that was fun to share and full of flavor.
I have something to admit. For someone who is obsessed with kale, I had been a bit skeptical of kale pesto. I thought, how can kale pesto taste good? Kale on it’s own is nothing special and it needs some love and a good bit of massaging to taste great. It does not have an exciting scent or taste like basil or mint, so how is it going to flavor a pesto? Well … after making one batch I now have a whole new level of respect for kale. I’m not quite sure what it is, but kale pesto is crazzzy good.
I’m warning you now, you’ll probably be seeing a few more recipes with kale pesto in the coming weeks, but for now, if you've been skeptical like me and haven't tried it, well, you must. And then you must smear it on this roasted cauliflower and eat this for a meatless Monday or Tuesday ... or any day of the week. I'm certain you will be smitten.