A couple of week's ago I took part in Meat Free Week, a movement to raise awareness about the dangers of aggressive over-farming, the importance of compassionate farming and the health benefits of increasing your veg intake. Don't get me wrong, I'm highly unlikely to become vegetarian, in fact my last post on here is for an absolutely amazing leg of lamb. But it is a great way to get more creative with your vegetables. It's coming up to summer holidays, beach wear and just generally feeling good about ourselves so if I can find more exciting ways to eat well and be healthy I'm all for it!
I'd read a lot about cauliflower rice and cous cous over the past couple of years but it wasn't until I tried it myself that I realised how amazing it is. In layman's terms the blitzed up brassica is acting as the starch. It's grainy in texture, surprisingly un-cauliflower like in taste and it's so good for you. I've tried many variations of this over the past few weeks but this one wins hands down. I served it the other night with that pesto lamb, the strong Middle Eastern flavours balancing perfectly against the light mint of the pesto. The spice mix here is ras el hanout which is available in the spice sections of all major supermarkets, it's warm and spicy with a hint of curry from the cumin and coriander.
Middle Eastern cauliflower cous cous
- 1 small cauliflower
- 1 small red pepper, finely sliced
- 1 small fennel bulb, finely sliced
- 1 small red onion, finely sliced
- 3 tbls olive oil
- 50g pistachios, roughly chopped
- 200g drained canned chick peas
- 1 tbs dried ras el hanout spices
- 20g chopped parsley
- salt & pepper to taste
- Prepare the cauliflower by removing the outer leaves and stem and cutting into florets. Put a handful of florets at a time in a food processor and pulse until you have grain like texture. Don’t overdo it or you’ll get paste. Pour the grains into a large bowl and continue pulsing a handful at a time until you are done.
- Dry toast the chopped pistachios in a hot deep-sided pan (ie not a frying pan) and once ready transfer to a dish for later.
- Add the ras al hanout spice to the same pan and dry toast it until the spices release a strong aroma, then add half the oil. Once hot add the chickpeas and fry lightly until golden brown. Transfer to the pistachios dish for later.
- Add the remaining oil to the same pan and once hot sauté the sliced pepper, fennel and onion for approximately 15 mins on a low heat until soft and caramelised. Add this veg mix to the chick peas and pistachio nuts for later.
- Finally in the same pan again, add all your cauliflower grains, stir carefully over a low heat to get the flavours left in pan evenly mixed with the grains. Place a lid on the pan and leave to heat for 3-5 mins. It must be on a low heat or it will burn, although a little colouring is good. You aren’t cooking the grains, you just want to get them piping hot. Then take all the mix of veg, pistachios and chickpeas and stir through the grains until evenly distributed. Season to taste and serve.