Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Roasted Cauliflower, Spinach and Quinoa - Get ready to say "YUM."

Yes, this is the Texan and today I've got a recipe y'all are gonna love. Especially our vegetarian friends (waving to Kav across the border). Even if you're not a vegetarian--even if you don't like cauliflower--you will like this recipe.

It came from The Cowgirl Chef. You can find her website here. Ellise Pierce is her name. She's a Texan through and through, but now lives in Paris. (Life is rough, huh?) AND, she writes for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Which is how I came to know about her.

So one day, I'm visiting her website and stumbled on this recipe. Now I like cauliflower, but no one else in my house does. Unimaginative dunderheads. Nonetheless, I was so enamored with this recipe, I just had to try.

This weekend, I finally did. And guess what? Hubby liked it :-)

Here's what you'll need:
  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper (Ellise always calls for sea salt. I say use whatever you have)
  • 1 cup quinoa, uncooked (for those of you who are wondering, it's pronounced keen-wah)
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, rinsed
  • a big handful of baby spinach
  • a few fresh sage leaves, finely chopped (they were out when I was at the store, and since I was too lazy to try another, I just added a bit of rubbed sage)
  • 8 sundried tomatoes (in oil), chopped
  • a handful of walnuts, toasted then roughly chopped
  • a big pinch of red pepper flakes
  • E-Z French vinaigrette (recipe below)
Preheat oven to 475 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower florets onto the cookie sheet.

Drizzle with a bit olive oil and mix with your hands. Add a bit of salt and pepper and slide into the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cauliflower is browned.
(Just so you'll know, roasted cauliflower is now one of my favorite snacks. With the salt and pepper...Oh. My. Gosh. This stuff was addicting.)

This is quinoa. It's actually a seed as opposed to a grain, and I've heard it's really good for you.

To make the quinoa, bring 2 cups of salted water to a boil. When it boils, add the quinoa, turn off the heat and cover. Let rest for 15 minutes or until the quinoa absorbs all of the water. Now, since I'd never actually tasted quinoa, I had to sample. And I can tell you that this stuff will quickly become a staple at my house. Love the texture and it has a bit of a nutty flavor.
Before we assemble our salad, we need to make the vinaigrette. For this you will need:
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh herbs (basil, thyme, chives)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Put the sherry vinegar, shallot, mustard, a big pinch of salt and pepper and the herbs in a small jar and shake until combined. Let rest for about 10 minutes - this softens the intensity of the shallots' flavor and allows the salt to dissolve. Then add the olive oil. Taste for seasonings. (I found the amount of olive oil to be too much. Next time I will probably cut it in half.)
I don't know about you, but I've never even seen a shallot until recently. I know chefs cook with them all the time, but I never could figure out what they were. For a long time I thought shallot was just another name for a green onion. Wrong. Then one day, I'm walking through my Walmart and I saw them.
Well, I'll be. They looked like a cross between an onion and garlic. But what do they taste like?
Would you believe it? They even tasted like a cross between garlic and onion. Learn something new every day.
Okay, now we're ready to assemble our salad.
Mix together the cauliflower and quinoa.

Add the capers, spinach, sage, sundried tomatoes, walnuts, and red pepper flakes. Drizzle in a bit of the E-Z Dijon French Vinaigrette and toss. Taste for seasonings and serve warm, room temperature or cold.

Doesn't this look pretty. So colorful. And did I mention that it tastes REALLY good?

I know this may look involved, but it's really not that difficult. Just a little more time-consuming. But it's definitely worth the effort. You will get full too. This makes anywhere from 4-6 servings. I refrigerated the leftovers, warmed them slightly the next day and they tasted just as good as they had the night before.

As you can probably tell, making this recipe was a learning experience for me. I tried two things--the quinoa and shallots--that I'd never tried before. And I found two new faves--roasted cauliflower and quinoa.

These guys? Well, they wouldn't tough it with a ten-foot pole. 

Have you ever tried a recipe that surprised you, introduced you to new ingredients, or taught you something you never knew?
Do tell :-)


  1. Funny, Mindy. I had quinoa tonight - with something very like Virginia's ratatouille on top.

  2. Im just stopping in cos I need prayer, mum has Pneumonia and not good at all. Im not asking for prayer for her to be healed as I truely believe its her time to go to be with Jesus but the waiting is doing me in. I went to see her to say goodbye but the memory is one I cant get out of my head. she was asleep with eyes open, but when they tried to rouse her a bit she didn't and it was just to much seeing her like that and not responding It tears me up. I said goodbye on Sunday. Shes on morphine for pain and its a matter of time. I have had two nights with very little sleep and I was sure this morning she had gone but shes still here. If you could please prayer I will be able to sleep tonight. They will ring when something happens at any time of night. (the waiting til 7am was to much for me). mum is 93 and ready to go home and I have accepted this and want it for her also. I know I have some hard days coming but God will take care of me.

    1. Jenny, I wish I could be there to wrap my arms around you during this trying time. Though I know there is One Who is doing just that.

      Father God, we thank You and praise you for bringing Jenny to us. We ask, Lord, that she would feel Your presence now more than ever. Your word beckons those who are weary and heavy laden to come to You and You will give them rest. Lord, that's exactly what we ask for our sweet sister now. Grant Jenny the rest that her body needs. Surround her with a peace that passes understanding. For we ask these things in Jesus precious name, Amen.

      We're here for you, Jenny, with continued prayers.

    2. Oh Jenny, I've gone through the same thing...it's so hard. Amen to Mindy's prayer, and I'll be praying for you throughout the next days and weeks.

    3. Amen and amen. Praying for you and your mom, Jenny. This is such a difficult journey you're on, but you are not alone.

    4. hugs Jenny the waiting is awful - my mom had brain cancer and just laid there with her mouth open I was actualy glad when she closed her eyes but it was still horrible to see and keep waiting.


    5. Jenny, I just saw on facebook that mom passed away. Honey, we're so sorry for your loss. I know it's been a long road for you, but please know that God has you in the palm of his hand.

      We are so blessed to know you, and even though we're far away, you are being thought of and prayed for by friends you've made all around the world. That is truly a wonderful thing.

      God bless you!

    6. I just saw this message. We walked with a dear friend as she traveled that road. To see her body fail and know her bright soul was waiting to go home was heart-rending, but there was joy in the end.

      Please know you're being held up in prayer all the way over here.

  3. Jenny, I'm so sorry to hear this. You'll be in our prayers. Please take good care of yourself.

  4. Mindy, I love this recipe! I'm not crazy about sundried tomatoes. But I bet fresh ones would be good. I'll try it!

    I tried shallots ages ago but thought they were terrible--really strong onion flavor. They were really small and round. Then one time watching a cooking show I noticed they weren't as little as what I tried. So I bought another one and tried it and really liked it. So I wonder if what I bought the first time was mis-labled and was actually a little pearl onion or something like that.

    1. In all honesty, Missy, I probably won't add the sundried tomatoes next time. I don't know if it was the texture I didn't care for or what. I don't think I would miss them even I didn't substitute.

    2. Mindy, for some reason I've never liked them. They're too strong for me, even though I love tomatoes. Adding roasted red peppers might be good, and they'd add that nice red color.

  5. Hmmm, the roasted cauliflower for a snack looks awesome...I may need a grocery store run today.

    The salad looks great, too. I just bought some quinoa over the weekend. I've ground it to use as flour, but I've never just cooked it whole and eaten it.

    But will the family eat this salad? Maybe. It's worth a try!

    1. And Mindy, your question: Have you ever tried a recipe that surprised you, introduced you to new ingredients, or taught you something you never knew?

      This is called adventurous cooking, isn't it? As long as I'm not craving comfort food, I'm game!

    2. Adventurous cooking, huh? Okay, I'll go with that. Don't know what your family will do with this, but it would make a nice lunch for you for a few days :-)

  6. Wheeeeee -- waving back across the border! What a delicious looking recipe! I'm trying this for sure. And am going to a small get-together on Saturday so this sounds like the perfect dish to bring. Even have a new farmer's market close by to get the cauliflower fresh! Yum. I had to google capers though. Had no idea what they were!

    I'm adventurous in trying new things...but not in creating my own version of a recipe. I like the directions spelled out step by step with pictures which is why I love this blog so much.

    1. Kav, I knew you'd like this. I thought of you the whole time I was preparing it. Capers have kind of an olive taste. Green olive, that is. Though, I believe, they're actually berries. I try to keep a jar on hand.

      Let me know how it goes at the get together.

  7. Thanks all for your comments. she passed away at 3.50am this morning peacefully. I knew I woke from a dream and thought shes gone and the call came. she had a good night and was peaceful out of pain and now shes home where here heart has wanted to be for years. shes reunited with dad also. Its hard and I will miss her. What hardest is its still 4.40am so I cant ring anyone yet but I will be ok.

    1. Oh, Jenny, I'm so sorry. And while it may be too early to call anyone, I'm glad we could be here for you in some manner.

      Continuing to pray....

    2. Oh Jenny, so sorry - but I understand your heart. It's hardest for those of us left behind, isn't it? You can't help but celebrate for your mother and dad.

      Bittersweet, all the way.

      Continuing to pray...

    3. Jenny, I saw your post on facebook. Big hugs for the loss of your mom but I love your beautiful perspective. This life is so fleeting. Our eternal life is what matters.

      Praying for your comfort and the peace of your family!

    4. Sending my hugs and prayers too, Jenny. I'm sorry for your loss, but I know what you mean about being happy for her. I felt that way about my dad's passing.

  8. Jenny, I'm so, so sorry. I wish we could give you a hug and be there to help. But we'll be praying for you.

  9. Oh, wow!! I keep hearing about quinoa. And now here's a recipe I can try.... This looks actually sort of healthy and delicious... both together!

  10. Thank you all for your comments. I have good and bad moments. I find being alone is hard but being with people is also hard. Im hungry but dont want to eat. but I know I will be ok. God does love me and so do all you wonderful cyber friends. thanks