This week I’m on a clean eating streak. Eating ‘clean’ means something different for everyone, but for me it means no consumption of empty calories. It means at least 50% of my plate is vegetables, 25% lean protein, and 25% carbohydrates at most (if any at all). Higher fibre when choosing grains and carbs. No dairy. No sugary snacks.
“Goodbye daily, slightly salty chocolate mudslide cookie. Goodbye.”
This forces me, obviously, to be more creative with my meals. Nobody wants boring old salad and chicken breast on a daily basis. At least I sure as hell don’t! But as I’ve mentioned in previous posts: I’m not a fan of the time consuming meal preparation, especially after your long tiring day… not the most ideal. The faster the better. Tonight’s dinner is definitely share worthy. Spiced roasted cauliflower with a mixture of curry, harissa, and za’atar (because who says you can’t mix everything in the pantry together?), kale salad dressed in grainy mustard vinaigrette, and pork loin.
Spiced Roasted Cauliflower: yields 1 whole, small head of cauliflower
6 TB olive oil
few large pinches curry powder
few large pinches harissa spice blend
few large pinches za’atar spice blend
three pinches salt
three pinches sugar (for caramelization)
three pinches freshly ground black pepper
-Preheat your oven to 450 F. Do this before anything else, really.
-Blend together the oil with the spices and seasonings. You’re looking for a slightly thick mixture that is still liquid enough to be brushed across the surface of the cauliflower without difficulty. There is no ‘wrong’ way to make this, slightly thicker or slightly thinner won’t make much of a difference. My only suggestion is that you make sure it’s not a complete paste, as you don’t want a mouthful of spice paste after the fact. You just need a nice even layer of flavor packed oil across that head.
-Cut the leafy parts from the cauliflower and place it core/root down. Cut into four equal quarters. If you’re dealing with a very large head of veg: try cutting into 6 instead.
-Take a pastry brush and brush all sides of the cauliflower quarters liberally (very!) with the oil spice. Make more if you think it needs it. Be generous. Realize the inside of the pieces won’t get this spice directly on it, so you can go a little more nuts on the outside. Besides, I like it bold.
-By this time your oven has preheated to high temp, toss the cauliflower parts onto a baking sheet without any parchment paper. You can use tinfoil if you must, but straight on the pan is how I prefer it, as I like how the pan helps crisp it up really nicely. Place the parts with one of the flat sides downwards so the pan can really get a good amount of caramelization going on the surface area.
-Set a timer for about 15 minutes and then check on them. Rotate the tray and use a pair of tongs to lift up the cauliflower, checking the caramelization on the bottom side. If the side that was baking directly on the tray looks dark golden: you can flip it over so the other flat side is downwards on the pan. Get it nice and golden!
-Flip each piece over (or don’t!) and bake for another 5-10 depending how crisp/soft you like it. Test with a fork for doneness. If a fork slides very easily into the center it’s probably overdone. It’s a good idea to check it with a fork after the first 15 minutes to judge how far you need to go. I baked mine for almost 25 minutes, and it probably could have been cooked 5 minutes less.
-Remove the cauliflower from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before busting in and devouring.
-Serve with fresh kale dressed in a little olive oil, grainy mustard, apple cider vinegar, and a few pinches each of salt, and black pepper, and a seared piece of pork loin spiced up with a bit of the harissa blend and some of the additional salad vinaigrette.
Awesome. Zilch for the prep time.