Tina (the cat) and I are on our own for the next two weeks as Duncan has set off to conquer the hills of Crete on his road bike. While I admire him from a distance, I’m quietly happy that I don’t have to put myself through anything that strenuous at the height of summer weather, especially that Crete has a reputation for absolutely relentless heat, even amongst the Greeks.
I’ve decided that this is a perfect opportunity to cook and eat more salads and healthy stuff and learn some yoga poses that I’ve been terrible at. Until now, whenever a sun salutation called for chaturanga I would drop to the floor like a sack of potatoes – not elegant and not good for you either 😉 . So I’ve decided to address this somehow and I’m currently doing some arm strength and back muscle awareness exercises to be able to do chaturanga properly. To be honest, I feel really out of my comfort zone but I’ve decided to shut off that inner critic that whispers into my ear and focus on how chuffed I’m going to be once I improve.
Today’s Middle Eastern cauliflower rice salad is something I’ve been meaning to try out for a while without being heckled by Sir Duncan 😉 . It’s a Middle Eastern inspired salad that uses raw cauliflower as a base instead of grains. It’s a winner, in my opinion.
Even if you are not a massive fan of cauliflower (I realise that it can divide the crowd), give it a go as you can’t really taste it much. Spices, herbs and pomegranate seeds provide an ample distraction for you, cauliflower haters, out there! This salad is healthy, filling, sweet and sour with a good deal of crunch. It’s certainly going to be a permanent fixture on my healthy lunch options list.
Wash cauliflower, dry with a paper towel and divide into large florets. Place in a food processor and blitz until its texture resembles couscous.
Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Once the oil becomes hot, saute garlic until soft and fragrant.
Add baharat spice to the garlic and fry it off gently for a minute, stirring the whole time.
Add all of the cauliflower rice, season with sumac and salt, and more baharat if needed. Fry on a low heat for 1-2 minutes, just to soften the cauliflower rice a little bit.
In a small bowl, whisk together oil, orange and lemon juice.
Heat up a griddle pan. Brush cut sides of apricots with a tiny bit of olive oil and place them cut side down on a hot griddle pan until lightly charred, place on the other cut side until the other side is done. Take off the pan and set aside to cool.
Heat up a small frying pan and lightly toast almond flakes or chopped almonds on it. Keep an eye on them as they burn easily.
Once done with the almonds, brush leek slices with a bit of oil and char them lightly on both sides. Take off the pan and season with a bit of salt.
Mix cauliflower rice with herbs, toasted almonds, pomegranate seeds, charred leeks and chickpeas (if using). Mix in the dressing and then dot with charred apricots.
*Baharat is an aromatic and slightly peppery Middle Eastern spice blend. As with most spice blends there are many versions of it, but it usually contains cinnamon, cumin, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, nutmeg, cardamom and cloves. If you don’t have the spice blend just use a combination of these spices, but do so with caution.