Quinoa-cauliflower-pomegranate salad with crisp-fried kale bits
Part of my culinary style is cooking with grains, legumes and vegetables and combine them in hot and cold dishes. I find it convenient to cook grains or legumes in advance and have them sitting in the fridge for a day or two waiting to be incorporated into a recipe for lunch or dinner (or breakfast). Quinoa cooks very quickly as it does not require soaking but still, I usually cook more than what I need for a specific recipe and keep the rest in the fridge for later.
While in Montreal on a food tour recently we stopped at Crudessence, a vegan (and mostly raw I think) restaurant in the Plateau neighbourhood of Montreal. I was truly inspired by a dish we had there and did a little research on what else they make. I found a salad they call couscous-flower, based on couscous mixed with cauliflower that has been chopped to small bits in a food processor. There are several recipes on the internet cooking with finely chopped cauliflower and I have used it before both steamed and roasted in warm dishes. I thought that chopping it and serving raw was an interesting way that added crunch and good texture to the quinoa.
This is the second time I make this salad with some variations depending on what’s in my kitchen today (that’s how I cook, always small changes). I am using quinoa instead of couscous and added other seasonal items such as pomegranates because they are so good and beautiful right now.The quantities are not important, as you can see you can add more quinoa or more cauliflower, depending on how you like the salad. I mix about equal amount of these two ingredients and build the salad from there. You can use all the ingredients I listed or just a few, or substitute and make it your own version, it’s all good. I topped the salad with fried chopped kale that added a nice crunchy interest to this salad.
You can also make this into a warm dish: toss the chopped cauliflower with a little olive oil and roast in 400℉ oven until softened but not browned. Add to the warm quinoa and add the remaining ingredients. You can leave out the agave syrup and pomegranates if you want a more savoury dish.
Let me know if you try it:).
1 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 small cauliflower
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
A few cherry tomatoes, sliced
1/3 cup currants
A handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
A few (4-5) mint leaves, stacked, folded and sliced into ribbons
4 dates, chopped
Juice from 1/2 a lemon or more, to taste
1 tablespoon agave syrup
2 tablespoons olive oil (or leave oil out for fat free.
1/3 cup candied hazelnuts (or other nuts) chopped
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
Fried kale bits
Rinse the quinoa and drain well. Bring the water to a boil, add quinoa, lower heat to medium low, cover and cook until the water is absorbed. Leave covered in the pot for another 15 minutes until the quinoa fluffs up and loosens a bit.
Cut cauliflower into florets and place in a food processor. Pulse a few times or process on low until the cauliflower is chopped into little pieces, but not necessarily granules.
Combine enough of the quinoa and cauliflower to serve as the base for the salad. you don’t need to use it all at once.
add the red pepper, tomatoes, currants, dates and parsley and mix gently.
Either drizzle the dressing ingredients over the salad or mix them separately and then pour as much as you’d like over the salad.
To make the fried kale bits dry a few kale leaves well and chop into small pieces.
Heat up canola oil in a pan, about 2″ worth. Don’t over heat the oil, you can test it by dropping a piece of kale in to see how it cooks. When the oil is hot enough drop in a few of the kale bits at a time and fry for a minute or so. Don’t let them burn or get brown.
Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel and sprinkle with salt and pepper while still warm.
Keep on a clean plate until needed.
Spoon the salad onto individual plates, sprinkle additional pomegranate seed over and the chopped nuts.
Top with a mound of fried kale bits and serve.