I love this because it’s easy, fresh, healthy and versatile. Make it to your taste, focus on balancing the flavours and use what you have at hand.
Try toasted and chopped seeds and nuts (almonds, pine nuts, sunflower, flax or pumpkin), finely chopped dried and/or fresh fruit (apricots, raisins, dates, cranberries, peaches, nectarines), red onion, minced garlic, pickled or candied ginger. Add acid with citrus or vinegar, some chilli (I like chipotle but any will do), sweetness with agave nectar, honey or maple syrup (although often dried fruit is enough) and plenty of herbs, like coriander, flat-leaf parsley, basil, rocket, chives and mint. Sometimes a little bitterness from radicchio or sour tamarind is delicious too. The ingredients listed below are simply an example of what you can use.
Serves 4 as a side
½ small head cauliflower
salt and pepper
zest and juice 1 lemon
zest and juice 1 orange
1 smoked red onion, diced
¼ cup toasted almonds, roughly chopped
handful toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds
½ cup pomegranate seeds
Soak the diced onion in the lemon and orange juice and set aside.
Remove most of the stalk from the cauliflower and discard. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor in batches until it resembles couscous.
Place in a large bowl and season well with salt and pepper, add a glug of olive oil and toss through the lemon and orange zests.
Add the soaked onion, roughly cut herbs, almonds, seeds and pomegranate seeds. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve warm or cold.
Tip: Sauté, or heat in a thin layer in the oven, or toss in a wok and add the fresh herbs after heating. Great with roast peppers, grilled vegetables and cheese, or seared scallops, fish or BBQ lamb.
Ben Barton of gourmet café and ‘urban farmers’ market’ Scarecrow, in central Auckland, focuses on local, seasonal produce in his dishes. Previously, Barton spent two years creating pop-up dining events in Auckland and before that travelled the world while cooking in the galleys of super yachts.