Category: Vegan

Rethinking January

January 17, 2013

As an almost lifelong resident of Seattle, January was always my least favorite month.  I always felt a huge let down after the holidays and facing 31 days of rain and cold always put me in a bad mood.  The fact that the sun set around 4pm didn’t help and it certainly didn’t help that we couldn’t actually see the sun when it did set.  I always have had the perspective that it was so much worse in other parts of the country, places where you could actually freeze if you went outside, or you couldn’t go outside at all.  But usually those frosty places had this thing called spring that you could look forward to.  Thawing, sunshine, warmer temperatures.  Seattle often didn’t have that thing called spring.  Winter would just go on and on and it would get light later but it would still be cold and rainy.  Finally in July, or maybe August, summer would start.  So you can see why January could be particularly cruel.  With no guarantee of spring, 31 days can feel a lot longer.

Things have changed.  We live in Oakland now.  I don’t think it has rained once in January.  I wake up everyday to sunshine.  I’m not quite sure what to do with that.  I find myself worrying that something is wrong, why is the sun shining again??  It has been cool, crisp, and beautiful.  We are going to creep up into the mid-60′s this weekend and that, my friends, is practically like summer to this Seattle girl.  I haven’t been wearing my multiple pairs of boots and I’ve only worn my down jacket, the one I lived in from October to May last year, a handful of times.  It’s weird.  And wonderful.

Why all this talk about the weather?  Well, food is so connected to how you feel.  I’ve always listened to what I crave, beyond french fries and brownies, and tried to cook according to what sounds good.  Salads and light pastas are what I want in summer, green! green! green! in spring, roasted root vegetables and hearty soups sound best in winter.  What do you do when you no longer feel the need to roast everything?  When you don’t turn on your oven to bake but also to warm up your kitchen?  When soup sounds good but isn’t a full-on I-need-something-warm-in-my-belly-this-instant?

Well, you still make soup.  As a card-carrying member of the Soup Lovers Society, soup always sounds good to me.  I even like it in summer, either a cold one or a hot one served barely warm.  This lovely addition to my repertoire is the type that can be served year round.  It is hearty enough to serve as a main course with a delicious salad, and pretty enough to serve in small bowls as the start to an elegant dinner.  I love the smooth texture of perfectly blended soup but if it is going to be dinner, I need to chew.  Here we have a silky smooth spiced cauliflower base with bits of millet and bright green peas to keep it texturally interesting.  It has a wonderful creamy mouth feel without any cream.

Finally, I have become completely obsessed with these super spicy chiles that my friend Allison introduced me to.  Sicilian Pepperoncinis.  Eating dinner at her house, we sprinkled them over a delicious homemade lasagne and as we did so, she warned us, “Those are super spicy!”  Randy and I nodded our heads because we like super spicy and then WHOA! those are super spicy!  I had to have some!  So Allison, Denise, and I make a pilgrimage to Boulette’s Larder in the Ferry Building in the big city and ate really expensive soup (not as good as the one this post is about) and bought chiles.  Which I am grinding in a mortar and pestle and sprinkling on everything.  I think this soup tastes amazing with some spice but you can easily leave it off.

One Year Ago:  Pizza with Leeks, Smoked Mozzarella, and Eggs, Gingerbread-White Chocolate Blondies
Two Years Ago:  Gingerbread with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting, Baked Tofu with Peppers and Olives
Three Years Ago:  Oatmeal Carmelitas, Chunky Vegetable Pot Pie
Four Years Ago:  Milk Chocolate Frosted Layer Cake

Curried Cauliflower Soup
Adapted from Food and Wine
Serves 4

I have puréed this soup in a blender and also with an immersion blender.  The blender will give you that silky smooth texture but the millet breaks that up, so save on mess and use an immersion blender if you have one.  You might find that you don’t want to add all the millet to the soup pot. 

½ cup millet
1 cup water
Kosher or sea salt
Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. turmeric
½ tsp. cayenne pepper
One 2-pound head of cauliflower, cut into florets
6 cups vegetable stock
2 cups peas, fresh or frozen
Crushed red pepper flakes, for sprinkling (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine the millet with the water and a pinch of salt.   Bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer over moderately low heat until the millet is tender, about 20 minutes.  Set aside.

Place a large saucepan, or a Dutch oven, over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan and add the onions with a large pinch of salt.  Cook over moderate heat until softened and browning in places,  stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.  Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, tumeric, cayenne, and another pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Add the cauliflower and the stock.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to moderately low, and simmer the soup until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 minutes.

Working in batches, carefully purée the soup in a food processor or a blender.  (Or use an immersion blender directly in the pot.)  Return the soup to the pot and add the cooked millet and the peas.  Rewarm gently over moderate heat.  Season with salt, if needed.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (if using) and serve.

(This soup, like most, is great the next day.  It gets pretty thick with the millet absorbing the liquid but I didn’t not mind that at all.  If you want a soupier consistency, just add some water or broth when you reheat it.)



So Good, I Made It Twice

December 13, 2012

Common sense would say that the second time you make something, it is better than the first.  Right?  The second time you know your way around the recipe, or the ingredients if you are creating it yourself, and the tinkering makes it better.  You are committed to that dish, having enjoyed it enough once to make it again, and it tastes even better.

Not always so.  At least in my kitchen.  I rarely make things twice because I have a deep need for variety in my diet.  Occasionally I make something I really like and find myself craving it soon after the leftovers are gone.  So I make it again and 89% of the time (scientific figure) I like it better the first time.  Is it because I tinker too much?  The old “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idea?  Who knows.  When that happens, I either don’t write about the dish, or I do with the first run haunting me as I type.

Recently I had one of those weeks where I didn’t want to cook from recipes.  I wanted to just have fresh or freshly cooked ingredients at my disposal and figure it out as I went along.  I am not really that kind of cook.  I am a recipe cook but the years of cooking experience and finding treasures at farmers’ markets have mellowed me, and cut my reliance on hard and fast recipes.  So I spent an afternoon stocking my refrigerator with things I like and decided to just figure it all out as the week progressed.  Dinner one night was bowls filled with sautéed kale, quinoa, topped with bits of roasted squash and a fried egg.  There were more bowls filled with rice noodles, baked tofu, and bok choy.  There was a Niçoise salad or two.  At the end of the week, I made a soup whose base was a bunch of leeks I had not used and a lonely potato that was sitting on my counter.  I added what I had leftover and like most soups that are born from ingredients that you like, it was terrific.  I even ate the leftovers for lunch a couple of days later.  Me.  The leftover hater.  The next week, I still had some quinoa, so I roasted more squash, sautéed more kale, and made the soup again, assuming that it wouldn’t be as good the second time.  But it was.  So I had to post about it.

Now, I’m not going to suppose that you have cooked quinoa, roasted squash, and already sautéed kale in your refrigerator.  I would imagine that you could probably make this soup without doing any up front work.  You could add the squash along with the leeks and potatoes, allowing it to get nice and soft.  You could pour in the quinoa after the broth is boiling and I assume it would cook all right.  You could add the kale near the end, cooking it enough that it gets tender but still stays nice and green.  You could do all that and it would be good soup.  But I don’t think it would be that good.

Here is why.  Quinoa cooked properly, not in too much liquid, retains a nice texture and crunch.  Roasted squash gets nice and caramelized making it much sweeter than just cooking it in liquid.  And kale.  Well.  I don’t think I’ve ever admitted this before here but I’m not a huge fan of kale.  I cook it and I eat it because sometimes there is a need for big dark leafy greens and I like it better than chard.  But you will not find a love letter to kale here.  And yes, I have made kale chips and no, not a single member of my family thought they were anywhere near as good as potato chips, and I may have actually just dumped them in the compost bin.  Ahem.  What I have learned about kale is that I need a bit of garlic cooked along with it and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes.  It needs to be cut in small pieces and it needs to cook long and slow until it is really tender.  It also needs to be Tuscan or lacinato kale, which is much more tender than its cousins.  So precooked kale, made just the way I like it, worked really well for me in this soup.

Can I call this a chowder?  Does chowder mean that there is cream involved?  Chowder means chunky to me so I’m going to call it that.  And as for the extra squash and kale that will be left after the soup is gone?  Use them in risotto, pasta, on top of pizza, stuffed in a sweet potato, or shoved into an omelet.

One Year Ago:  Posole Verde, Chocolate Chip Cookies
Two years Ago:  Brown Rice Bowl with Marinated Tofu, Snickerdoodle Cupcakes, Healthier Mac and Cheese
Three Years Ago:  Holly B’s Stollen, Spicy Tomato Jam, Sweet and Salty Cake (I’m making this next weekend)
Four Years Ago:  Breton Apple Pie, Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, Lemon Rice Rolls with Lemon Tahini Sauce

Potato and Quinoa Chowder with Winter Squash and Kale
Dana Treat Original
Serves 4

I used red quinoa here because I had some I like the color better than the regular stuff.  The regular stuff will work just fine here, your soup will just be a bit more monochromatic.  Delicata squash is my squash of choice because you don’t have to peel it and they tend to be smaller than butternuts.

Olive oil
3 leeks, white and pale green part only, cut in half, washed, then thinly sliced
1 large baking (russet) potato, cut into ¾-inch cubes
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into small dice
Leaves from 4 lemon thyme branches (or regular thyme)
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cooked quinoa (recipe follows)
½ delicata squash, cut into 1-inch pieces (recipes follows)
½ bunch sautéed kale (recipe follows)
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place a large-ish soup pot over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot, then add the leeks along with a large pinch of salt.  Stir frequently until they start to soften, about 4 minutes.  Be careful with them as they can burn easily.  Add the potato and carrots and allow to cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the lemon thyme, cook for another minute, then pour in the broth.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a lively simmer and cook until the potato and carrot are very tender, about 20 minutes.

Add the quinoa, squash, and kale to the soup pot and bring the heat up so the soup really simmers.  Allow to cook for 10 minutes so that the added ingredients warm up and the flavors of the soup really meld together.  (Soup can be made up to 3 days ahead.  It will thicken considerably, so add broth or water to it as you reheat it.)

To make quinoa:
Bring 1½ cups water to a boil.  Add quinoa, then lower heat to simmer and cover the pot.  Cook for 15 minutes, then remove lid.  (This will make a bit more than you need for the soup.  You might even want to increase the amount so you have some extra hanging around.  Just use 1½ the amount of water to the amount of quinoa.)

To make roasted squash:
Preheat oven to 425ºF.  Split squash down the middle and scrape out the seeds.  Slice each half into half moons about ½-inch thick and lay them out on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.  Roast in the oven for 15 minutes.  Remove and turn all the slices over.  Roast for another 7 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

To make the sautéed kale:
Wash a large bunch of kale.  Strip the leaves off the stem, you can do this just using your hands or you can slice them off with a knife.  Chop the leaves into 2-inch pieces.  Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan, then add two minced garlic cloves.  Immediately add a large pinch of red pepper flakes.  Just as the garlic is starting to turn light brown, add all the kale leaves.  It will look like a lot but, like all greens, it will cook down.  Stir frequently and add a bit of water if the kale is sticking.  Taste to make sure the kale is really soft, it can take up to half an hour for me to get it where I want it, then remove from the heat.  Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.



My Mom Told Me To

November 15, 2012

My mom is relatively new to my blog.    She has always enjoyed my writing.  Back in the days when we used to write letters (remember those?), I sent a lot of mail home.  Whether I was in camp, on a bike in France while in high school, in college, or studying in Paris, she and my dad got a lot of letters from me.  She always said I was a good writer.

When I first starting writing this blog, I think my mom might have been perplexed.  Most people I knew were perplexed, including my own husband.  This was way back in 2008 and the idea that someone might want to write about the food they were cooking, take pictures of it, and put it out there to the general public seemed a bit strange in my circle.  One by one, friends and loved ones starting reading, commenting, requesting recipes.  But not my mom.  I know she loves me, loves my writing, loves my food – but I also know she does not love technology.  It took her getting an iPad to finally realize how easy it is to get online and read my blog and lots of other things.  Now she has joined the chorus of, “is this going to be on your blog?” when she eats something in my house that she likes.

My parents came to visit us in the beginning of October.  I was so excited to see them, to show them our new home, our neighborhood, the beauty of where we now live.  I was also anxious to show my mom a good time and feed her well because she had a big operation looming when they returned home.  My mom is young and vigorous and healthy but she has the bad luck to also have terrible joints.  She has been having pain in her hip and the time had come to have it replaced.  A hip replacement, as I’m sure you know, is a big deal with a long recovery.  She has been unable to bear weight – i.e.- stand – for the past month.  That means many things not the least of which is no cooking.  When she first told me about the operation, I immediately thought that I would cook for them.  That would be how I could help in a difficult situation.  Bring them food each week so that they could still enjoy dinners.  And then I remembered that I was moving and that would be impossible.

I’m the first born and the only daughter and I felt so guilty that I would not be able to help them in my way during a rough time.  So, before we moved, I made a huge amount of soup and a ton of freezer burritos, and stocked their freezer as best I could.  I also wanted to make them a special meal while they were here in Oakland.  I made a Thai green curry with the best of the end of summer and beginning of fall produce (recipe coming), and I made this delicious salad.  I didn’t take pictures because we were too busy eating and drinking wine and watching the sun go down.  At the end of the meal, my mom said, “You should really post that salad recipe because I think your readers would really like it”.  Oldest children do as they are told.

So, I made the same menu the next week.  The salad originally called for asparagus and I made it that way when my parents were here, but asparagus is so spring and it is so not spring, so I decided to swap out green for green and go with brussels sprouts.  I like brussels sprouts, Randy tolerates them, but I will admit they weren’t quite right in this salad.  They are terrific roasted and the marinade made them taste extra awesome but truthfully, they just didn’t go well in this salad.  So I’m giving you the recipe as originally written, with the asparagus.  If you don’t want to pay $7/pound for asparagus coming from Chile, I think zucchini or green beans would make a good alternative green vegetable.

One Year Ago:  Bulghur Salad Stuffed Peppers, Stilton Tart with Cranberry Chutney, Perfect Pumpkin Bread
Two Years Ago:  Roasted Mushrooms and Shallots with Fresh Herbs, Romaine Leaves with Caesar Dressing
Three Years Ago:  Creamy Artichoke Dip, Holly B’s Gingersnaps, Gianduja Mousse
Four Years Ago:  Spinach and Jerusalem Artichoke Soup, Bulghur and Green Lentil Salad with Chickpeas

Roasted Sesame-Giner Asparagus and Portobello Salad with Napa-Spinach Slaw
Adapted from The Fresh and Green Table
Serves 4

This recipe instructs you to grill both the mushrooms and asparagus which I think is a brilliant idea.  Our grill is propane-less at the moment, so I just used the oven to roast the vegetables.  In addition to that, I made a lot of little changes to the recipe.

¼ cup peanut or canola oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. rice wine
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. minced peeled fresh ginger
4 large portobello mushrooms, stemmed
¾ pound thin asparagus, trimmed
Kosher or sea salt
2 cups sliced Napa cabbage
2 cups baby spinach
¼ cup sliced scallions, white and pale green parts only
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Preheat the oven to 425ºF.  In a glass liquid measure, combine the peanut or canola oil, soy sauce, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger.  Whisk until well combined and transfer 3 tablespoons of the mixture to a separate bowl.  Put the portobello caps, stem-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the remaining marinade into the four caps.  Let sit for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.

Have the mushroom caps at one end of the sheet, place the asparagus at the other end.  Season the asparagus with a pinch of salt and roll the asparagus around in any of the marinade that has dripped off the mushrooms.  (Tilt the mushroom caps and pour some of the residual marinade over the asparagus.)  Make sure to rub the bottom of the mushroom caps in the marinade as well.  Remove the asparagus to a plate.  (They will not take as long to roast as the mushrooms.)

Place the mushrooms in the oven and set a timer for 8 minutes.  Pull them out, flip them over, and place the asparagus on the other end of the sheet.  Roast for another 8 minutes.  The asparagus should be bright green, crips tender, and browning in places and the mushrooms should also be soft and browning in places.  Put them back in the oven for a few minutes if they do not seems done.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cabbage, spinach, half the scallions, half the cilantro, and half the sesame seeds.  Add the lime juice and sugar to the reserved marinade.  Whisk until well combined.  Pour in the marinade and toss well to coat.

Slice the mushrooms into ½-inch thick strips and slice the asparagus diagonally into 1-inch pieces.  Gently toss the mushrooms and asparagus into the rest of the salad.  Garnish with the remaining scallions, cilantro, and sesame seeds.

 



Feels Like the First Time

August 19, 2012

I don’t know about you, but I feel like the first time I cook something is always the best.  Not bake, cook.  When I bake something more than once, it is almost always better the second or third time than it was the first.  Baking can be tricky and I usually am able to fix any little glitches in a recipe or my technique after I have already made a dessert or a bread.

There have been so many times that I have repeated a recipe merely for the sake of this blog.  I cook first and foremost so that I can eat and feed family and friends.  Photographing and blogging about food is secondary.  But often I am midway through a meal and I think to myself, “I really should write about this” or someone at the dinner table asks me, “Are you going to write about this?”  So then I repeat the recipe the next week and I can say, almost without exception, that it was better the first time.

This was a lovely Italian stew the first time I made it.  I was thinking about how good it tasted and my parents and brother were ooohing and aaahing and asking when it would be on the blog, so I stood up and snapped a photo with my phone.  And then I realized that that photo would not do and I was going to have to make it again.

So I made it again.  And I didn’t pay as careful attention to the recipe, I forgot the saffron, and I used dried beans because I didn’t have any more fresh shelling beans stashed away in my freezer and the stew that was so mind blowingly tasty – the kind of thing where you sit back and ask yourself how vegetables can taste so good and maybe there is something to that vegan thing after all – was just a good dinner.

Make it.  Follow the recipe.  Use fresh shelling beans if you can, this is their season and they can pretty easily be found at farmers’ markets.  If you don’t have access to fresh, soak some dried beans overnight and cook them separately from the stew, then add them once they are cooked.  As much as I love their convenience, this is not the place for canned beans.

One Year Ago:  Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie, Corn Pudding
Two Years Ago:  Green Bean Salad with Mustard Seeds and Tarragon,
Three Years Ago:  Tortellini Skewers, Bocconcini (Marinated Mozzarella)

Country-Style Vegetable Stew (Cianfotta)
Adapted from Verdura, Vegetables Italian Style
Serves 4

Whenever I use saffron, I always allow it to “bloom” in liquid before adding it to the dish.  It helps bring out the delicate flavor of the saffron.  I served the stew, both times, with a brown rice tossed with ricotta and lots of herbs.  It was nice but not necessary.

1 small pinch of saffron
Olive oil
1 onion, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, sliced crosswise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbsp. thyme leaves
1 small eggplant, trimmed and cut into medium dice
1 large yellow pepper, seeded, membranes removed, cut into medium dice
4 medium peppers, a mix of colors if possible, cut into medium dice
4 ripe tomatoes, seeded, cut into chunks
1 pinch red pepper flakes
Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces cooked beans
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil

Pour a few tablespoons of hot water into a bowl.  Add the saffron and set aside.

Place a wide shallow pan over medium heat.  Drizzle in just enough olive oil to coat the bottom, then add the onion and celery and a large pinch of salt.  Sauté until starting to soften, then add the garlic, saffron, and the thyme.  Cook for another 2 minutes, then add the rest of the vegetables.  Add another pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper, stir well, and cover.  Turn the heat down to low.  Stir the mixture occasionally and if it seems too dry, add a few tablespoons of water.  Repeat if necessary.  Add the beans during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Stir in the herbs just before serving and season to taste with salt and pepper.



Pike Place Market Memories

June 6, 2012

Have you visited Seattle? Then you have probably visited the Pike Place Market. I know it is always first on my list as a stop for visitors. There is something very unique about that special place. It is a market filled with tourists, especially on a sunny August Saturday, but it is also a place that the locals flock to. Everyone has their favorite produce stand, favorite fish market, favorite place to buy flowers, favorite cup of coffee, favorite place to grab a quick bite.

My family moved to Seattle in the summer of 1975. I know this because I remember having my 5th birthday party on the back porch of our house with a bunch of kids from the neighborhood who I didn’t know. We had a tree growing in our backyard that the builders did not want to cut down, so there was a perfect hole cut in our deck for the tree to grow through. That oddity and a birthday cake was enough of a draw for the neighborhood kids to celebrate with someone they didn’t know.

My parents are both from New York and in some ways, Seattle was a tough move, especially in 1975. They fell deeply in love with the beauty, the access to nature, the (then) low housing prices, and the quality of the air. They missed the culture, food, and community that they left on the East coast. Seattle did not have the bakeries they were used to, decent Italian food, or any good bread; but it did have great coffee, seafood, Chinese food, and the Pike Place Market. I have so many memories of visiting the Market (as the locals call it) all the way from being a very young child to just last week.

The floor of the Market is lined with tiles, each bearing names of families. We have one of those somewhere in the maze of corridors. I remember trudging down to the original Starbucks to buy bags of coffee to bring back to the friends who stored my boxes of clothes and books in the college town 3,000 miles away from what was then, the only Starbucks in the country. I remember buying pounds and pounds of English peas and eating them, straight from the pod, as we jostled through the crowds. Every year through high school, I gave my mom the gift of flowers once a week for a month for Mother’s Day, and I delighted in the huge bouquets that my babysitting money could buy at the Market.

Now I love to take the boys with me on my Market forays. It is just busy enough there that they stay close to me, a tiny bit timid in the crowds. We have to stop for donuts at the little place where they can watch them come out of the fryer, and we have to avoid the fish-throwing guys because the boys are terrified that they might get hit with a fish. They stand (mostly) patiently waiting at my favorite produce stand, hoping they will get a taste of grapefruit or plum, or whatever is on offer that day. And they negotiate with me about how many honey sticks we can buy.

It is a special place to be sure. Recently, a new Pike Place Market cookbook came out, called Pike Place Market Recipes. My friend Jess Thomson wrote the book and she did a fantastic job of telling the Market’s story. She profiles purveyors, stands, and the building itself. It is the true kind of cookbook that you can take to bed with you and read as a novel. But the best part, truly, is the recipes. Jess is a terrific cook, a terrific recipe writer, and her food is amazingly delicious.  This book truly does her talents justice as it features sweet and savory, meat and vegetarian.  My experience with Jess’ recipes is that they are tested to perfection.  This is a cook you can trust.

One Year Ago:  Shaved Spring Vegetable Salad, Puff Pastry Squares with Pea and Tarragon Purée
Two Years Ago:  Rhubarb Bette, Asparagus with Grilled Shiitake and Soy Vinaigrette
Three Years Ago:  Oven-Fried Rice Balls with Gruyère, Mexican Pizza with Corn, Tomatillos, and Chipotle

Roasted Pickled Cauliflower Salad
Adapted from Pike Place Market Recipes
Serves 4

The only changes I made to this glorious recipe is reducing the amount of onion (raw onion is too abrasive for me – even it is a sweet one), and adding a bit of avocado.  I used a mandoline to slice the fennel and the onion – thin is key.  Roasting the cauliflower before pickling it is genius.  Softer texture, mellower flavor.  Finally, Jess suggests making the cauliflower a day ahead but I found it was perfect after just a few hours.

 For the roasted cauliflower:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite size florets
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pickling brine:
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup white wine vinegar
½ cup fennel fronds

For the dressing:
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. minced garlic
2 tbsp. orange juice
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:
¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1 small fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
½ small sweet onion, very thinly sliced
½ ripe avocado, cut into bite size pieces
3 cups mixed salad greens
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat, and set aside.

Place the cauliflower in a large bowl, drizzle with the olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.  Stir the cauliflower to each floret well, then transfer to the prepared sheet.  Roast the cauliflower until lightly browned, about 20 minutes.  Transfer cauliflower to a bowl and allow to cool completely.

While the cauliflower cools, make the pickling brine:  Stir the water, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, and garlic together in a large pickling jar (or a similar container that can hold all the florets) until the sugar and salt dissolve.  Add the white wine vinegar and the fennel fronds.

When the cauliflower has cooled to room temperature, add it to the pickling brine.  Refrigerate for a few hours or overnight.

Make the dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, garlic, orange juice, and vinegar.  While whisking, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream whisking until emulsified.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To serve the salad, mix together about a cup of the pickled cauliflower (drained) with the hazelnuts, fennel, onion, avocado, and salad greens.  Add dressing to taste and serve immediately, garnished with pepper.



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