Talk about your happy accidents.
So there I was, kneeled down in front of my refrigerator “crisper” drawers, pulling out the bits of things in sacks on the bottom that were anything but, while in the big skillet behind me, I was cooking the cauliflower leaves along with a few bits of baby spinach. For Rose, my Australian Shepherd.
Rose, you see, had gained some weight while I was in Texas over Christmas (and much of January, it turned out). Two kilos — a little more than 4 pounds — to be exact. So I’ve been cooking all sorts of veggies — carrots, haricots verts, celery, zucchini, peas, and scraps, too, such as the leaves that I usually toss out on cauliflower and adding them to her food each day. Turns out Rose likes cauliflower leaves, so I thought I’d cook them up for her in a dry skillet, and add them to her carrots and peas for dinner.
As I was wiping out the brownish liquid from the bottom of the crisper drawer, I smelled something familiar. So I got up from my spot on the kitchen floor, and saw that the cauliflower leaves were browning, caramelizing, just like my cauliflower does in the oven. I hadn’t meant to let them go this far – this was for Rosedog, after all – but I tasted some, still unsalted and unpeppered, and it was…delicious.
I threw in a little fleur de sel, some fresh pepper, and stirred it around. Fabulous. But what could I do to make it even more so?
I opened the fridge, and there it was, staring right back at me, what I like to call Thai ketchup (because I use it far too liberally), Sriracha.
So, with Sriracha as the leader of the flavor parade, I whipped up a little vinaigrette, drizzled it over the whole thing, added some toasted and chopped cashews and sprinkled a few toasted sesame seeds on top. And for good measure, a squeeze of lime right before serving.
Crunchy, spicy, and with sweet caramel notes, I ate far too much of it, still-warm, from the skillet.
Warm Cauliflower Leaf Salad with Sriracha Vinaigrette
Makes 4 servings
- the leaves from 1 head of cauliflower
- a handful of baby spinach
- sea salt and pepper
- Sriracha Vinaigrette, recipe follows
- ¼ cup of cashews, toasted
- 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds, toasted
- a squeeze of 1 lime
1. Chop up your cauliflower leaves into slivers, give them a quick rinse and toss them into a skillet turned to medium. Add your baby spinach, too. Don’t stir this; you want the leaves to brown. When you can smell them, now you can flip these over in the skillet or give them a stir. Let this cook until the leaves brown and wilt; it’ll take about 15 minutes.
2. Add your Sriracha Vinaigrette directly into the skillet, give it a toss and pour this onto your serving platter. Add cashews, sesame seeds, and a squeeze of lime and serve right away.
Makes about ½ cup
- 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- sea salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon of sriracha sauce
- 6 tablespoons of grapeseed or another neutral oil
Put everything but the oil in a jam jar and give it a good shake. Let this sit for 5 to 10 minutes, and then add the oil. Shake again and taste for seasonings.