Well, Thanksgiving is fast approaching — in fact, it’s less than 2 weeks away, and how on earth did that happen?
Oh, right, many of us were distracted by a little thing called the 2016 Presidential Election…
That was a doozy.
Um, okay, let’s get back to food. This blog is a no-politics zone…kinda like our home is a no-mayo zone…But I digress.
For me, holiday meals are all about the SIDES. Sure, I might sneak a slice or two of turkey onto my plate, but typically the animal proteins are crowded out by lots of colorful veggies.
Sides are where so much of the creativity of the meal happens — new flavor combinations and preparation techniques, bright sauces, colorful garnishes; the fun stuff (in my opinion). (And, since the hubs makes a fantastic turkey breast on the bone, I’m free to focus my attentions elsewhere.)
I’ve been getting lots of requests lately for plant-based recipes for Thanksgiving, which I think is great – people are really branching out and the meal is no longer just about meat and potatoes (or marshmallow-capped sweet potatoes – sorry, but I just cannot get on board with them!).
This year I’m reserving a special spot on the table for a new favorite: turmeric and chile-rubbed cauliflower with red onion, garlic, pine nuts, pomegranate seeds & a bright maple-pomegranate vinaigrette. A slightly unconventional dish for a very traditional holiday, yet one whose warm, earthy flavors get along quite nicely with the usual players, i.e., turkey, mashed potatoes and/or sweet potatoes, stuffing, greens, etc.
Roasting is my favorite way to introduce cauliflower (or re-introduce it, for those who have been cauli-traumatized in the past) to people who aren’t fans of this super-nutritious but often under-appreciated brassica.
If you’ve only had cauliflower steamed, boiled (the horror!), or raw as part of a cruditè platter, you are missing out. Spending some quality time in a hot oven brings out cauliflower’s natural sweetness, and the resulting caramelized edges and tender interior make it super-satisfying, almost meaty in texture.
Turmeric brings a wonderful earthiness and the most gorgeous golden color to the cauliflower florets. And juicy, ruby-red pomegranate jewels, crisp toasted pine nuts, and a zesty dressing take it to the next level; how could anyone resist such a royal dish?
You could serve this as a side to virtually any meal, or make it the star of the show by serving with a grain such as quinoa, short-grain brown rice, or farro, or over mashed sweet potatoes or creamy polenta. This is a dish that will delight both the plant-based eaters and omnivores at your table.
Turmeric-roasted cauliflower with pine nuts + maple-pomegranate vinaigrette
Vegan, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Grain-free, Whole30-friendly (omit sweeteners from vinaigrette)
I made this with regular white cauliflower, but heirloom orange or purple varieties (or a combination), if you can find them at your local market, would be really beautiful here as well.
1 small head of cauliflower, base/core/leaves removed and cut into florets (about 4 cups)
1 red onion, cut into wedges
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced in half
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon red chile flakes
2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
1 tablespoon maple syrup
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds
3 tablespoons thinly sliced chives
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone liner.
In a large bowl combine cauliflower, onion, garlic, olive oil, turmeric, chile flakes, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Toss to evenly coat the veggies and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Roast until cauliflower is tender and lightly caramelized around the edges, 20 to 25 minutes, stirring halfway through.
To make the vinaigrette, combine pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl (or jar). Whisk (or shake) until combined, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange cauliflower mixture on a platter or serving bowl. Drizzle with vinaigrette and garnish with pine nuts, pom seeds and chives just before serving.