Back in Toronto and getting caught up on the routine of life. Of course, Monday means laundry (just ask the cats- they are very insistent if the dryer is taking too long in producing warm towels for them to curl up in), and this week we had two full suitcases of clothes to contribute. Phineas was especially happy, as Jim’s squash gym clothes (he had brought them to play with our nephew out in Vancouver) were rather ‘fragrant’! sorry…
It was a wonderful visit out west to see my family. It always is. My mom’s health is failing, so getting together is so much more meaningful now. I guess its only natural, as kids, that the idea of our parents’ aging is just not acknowledged. They just seem so resilient. And then, bam, we hit that age where now our parents start dealing with more than the occasional ache or pain. I came to realize that I would rather be the one aging, than to have to watch my parents age. One feels so helpless as a spectator.
So, our visits this past year have meant that much more. Can’t take anything for granted, so we want to make the most of each moment. And my mom certainly rises to the occasion as well. Anyone who knows us, knows that our entire lives as a family, we have relished in sitting around the table chatting about food and meals, even while we are eating the current one! I know my mom, who is pretty shy and reserved by nature, feels so at home in a kitchen, feeding others. For a while, my parents lived in Shellac, a quaint fishing village on the east coast of Canada. They had restored an old Victorian house and turned it into a Bed and Breakfast. Let’s just say, breakfast was way beyond the coffee and croissant or bagel. They were pretty well sold out the entire summer, so the crowd around the breakfast table in the mornings was a constant. Great for my dad, who was quite social and a natural story-teller. But my mom always stayed back in the kitchen, visiting rather with her pots and pans. It was a good arrangement for both. Even now, just with us, my mom is most comfortable standing by the stove, or sitting at the kitchen table. So for most of our visiting, when not exploring Vancouver’s beauty and kitchen stores (or playing squash for the guys) we most probably can be found in the kitchen chatting away.
And of course, we didn’t eat sparingly. That’s what happens when you put a bunch of cooks and bakers together. If only because we want to try out new recipes on our tolerant guinea pigs (they have no choice, they’re related!) This time around the weather wasn’t as cooperative as usual, so 10k walks around Stanley Park just didn’t happen. Which means that I know I have some work to do now, trimming off the trimmings of our meals!!
Soup yesterday was awesome- beyond fabulous. I’ve been cooking out of Simply Nigella, Nigella Lawson, all month, along with the ‘Rainy Day Bites Cookbook Club‘ on Instagram. The soup was a Chinese riff on Chicken Noodle Soup. Jim adored it. It has a real kick to it. So I went back to the book for last night’s dinner. This time I was intrigued by the Warm Spicy Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad with pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates are in season right now, so I want to make the most of them before those ruby jewels become hidden treasure again. So, it seemed like the right time to make this. But I wanted to make it more of a meal than just a salad. ‘Cuz I know Jim- he wants carbs that he can relate to on his plate. So I thought, rice. And instead of serving the chickpeas and tomatoes at room temperature, I would sauté them slightly, just to warm them through, before I added them to the roasted cauliflower. Served it all over coriander scented rice, and Jim was thrilled. Another keeper. So I thought. I’d share with you all a light, yet satisfying meal that is vegetarian, perfect for Meatless Mondays. Enjoy. And let me know what you think.
SPICY CAULIFLOWER AND CHICKPEA 'SALAD' OVER CORIANDER RICE
- 1 small head of cauliflower
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 cups chickpeas (home cooked or drained from a can or jar)
- 1-2 tbsp harissa (to taste and depending on the heat of the harissa)
- 4 ripe vine tomatoes
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 4 tbsp pomegranate seeds (or more if you love these jewels!)
- 1 cup parsley leaves
- 2 cups cooked basmati rice (I added 1 tsp ground coriander and 1/2 tsp salt to the rice while cooking. I use a rice cooker, but you prepare the rice the way you love)
Preheat the oven to 425F
Trim the cauliflower into small florets. Pour the olive oil into a large bowl. Add the cinnamon and cumin seeds. Stir it all up. Add the cauliflower and toss to coat well. Pour out the cauliflower onto a baking sheet, in one even layer. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes or until just softened. Don't wash out the bowl with the oil.
Add the drained chickpeas to the bowl. Add the harissa to taste (I say the kickier the better, but you know your taste buds!) Toss to coat. Quarter the tomatoes if small, or cut into eights if larger. Should be about the same size as the cauliflower florets. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and add the chickpeas and tomatoes to the cauliflower. Roast another 10 minutes at the most. (just enough to start to char the tomatoes) Remove from the oven. Sprinkle with sea salt. Toss in half of the pomegranate seeds you want to use.
Take your cooked rice, and turn onto a serving platter or large bowl. Add the parsley leaves and lightly combine with the rice. Pour the heated cauliflower and chickpea mixture over the rice. Scatter the remaining pomegranate seeds over everything.
If just wanting to make this as a salad: Simple add the room temperature chickpeas and tomatoes to the baking sheet with the cauliflower and roast off another 10 minutes.
Add the pomegranate seeds to the roasted mixture. Use 2 1/2 cups of the parsley leaves as your base in individual bowls and divide the cauliflower mixture over each pile of leaves. Then scatter the remaining seeds.
Adapted from Simply Nigella