I have a bit of a problem letting a recipe just be, without substitutions. I hope this admission won’t undermine my credibility as a recipe writer, but aside from a half-dozen can’t-mess-with family dishes, I have too much recipe ADHD to cook anything exactly as written in the recipe. And usually before a dish has even hit the table I’m thinking about what I’ll change the next time I make it.
I fell into substitution mode this week when I filled my shopping basket with the ingredients for a sweet-salty-sour-hot pomegranate-based salad only to discover that the ingredient of the week and the salad’s main event was gone from the shelves for the season. I was too set on the concept to drop it entirely, I wracked my brain for pomegranate substitutes, landed on cauliflower (don’t ask me how… may have been the first thing I spotted on the shelf), and a new ingredient of the week was born.
Even when I make this dish again when the pomegranates are back on the shelves, the cauliflower won’t be going anywhere soon. This salad has a lot of flavors going on and the the mild flavor and slight crunch of the vegetable serve to tie it all together. It makes a great lunch served with pita, hummus, and red pepper slices, and I can imagine it would be good as a meal on its own with some quinoa or brown rice mixed in if you feel like making substitutions.
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into small florets
1 T olive oil
1/2-3/4 c walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 c dried apricots, chopped
2 medium shallots, chopped
1/3 c good-quality green olives, coarsely chopped
1 large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped (more to taste)
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
1 T walnut oil (any neutral oil can be substituted)
2 t pomegranate molasses
1 t honey
Juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat the oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil. Put the cauliflower on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, lightly salt and pepper, and toss to coat. Roast cauliflower for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is soft and starting to brown. Set aside to cool slightly. Mix the walnuts, apricots, olives, shallots and pepper in a large bowl. Add walnut oil, pomegranate molasses, lemon, honey, and salt and pepper and stir well to coat. Add the cauliflower and parsley, adjust the seasonings, and serve warm, at room temperature, or cold.