Sunday, 15 May 2016

Harissa Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Dip

Does anyone else feel like cauliflower is the YouTube Child Star of the produce world?

Let’s consider. For years, cauliflower was just living its life. Quietly. Humbly. Jazzed up with a cheese sauce now and then for Thanksgiving, cauliflower was content to be steamed, roasted, and microwaved even. Cauliflower was likely very happy then. It probably reflects on the simpler days, when it was occasionally passed over for broccoli, eggplant maybe, asparagus in spring. It could still go to the mall without being recognized sometimes.

But the Stage Mother of the food world couldn’t allow broccoli to live a simple life. That Stage Mother (vegans, it seems) realized the cauliflower could be catapulted into a higher-achieving performance than its humble side dish beginnings. They pushed cauliflower and compared it to other foods, made cauliflower practice over and over, tarted it up and hyped it to their friends. They forced it to become buffalo wings, macaroni, kung pao chicken and, perhaps most unfairly, steak

Cauliflower briefly flourished in the limelight. Unaware of its own potential to become a meat-like substance, cauliflower pushed its limits, working harder, and becoming more and more achingly desperate for approval. It may have been the cauliflower alfredo sauce where it finally cracked. Realizing it was not meant to become a cream-based sauce of garlic and parmesan, cauliflower bucked. Like most head-shaving, wig-wearing, drug-imbibing public meltdowns, the discourse on cauliflower’s denouement was savage.

Prices spiked. As nearly every past star of The Mickey Mouse Club knows, selling out is the worst thing you can do to your fan base. The disavowal of cauliflower was immediate. Think pieces on the price of cauliflower emerged. Several reasons were considered, not unlike how the new boyfriend or girlfriend of a child star is often blamed for their downfall. Climate change became the Yoko to cauliflower’s John.  The price of cauliflower was used to forecast everything from the Canadian dollar to the apocalypse. It was, as it were, The Day the Music Died.

You can’t call it a comeback, but it seems the price of cauliflower has regulated. It’s still given some love from vegans, but most people have moved on to the new flavour of the month, Aquafaba (chickpea water, for us laypeople.) Cauliflower has had the meltdown, done the time in rehab, and is now promoting its new Buddhist, clean-living lifestyle. The unauthorized biography is soon to come. Before it falls off the map completely, only to be featured on ironic t-shirts by hipsters in 20 years, who will have very little memory of the Great Cauliflower Meltdown of 2015, allow me to present an excellent recipe that celebrates cauliflower’s beauty, as cauliflower. It’s not a stand-in here; it’s the main event.

You need:
  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped roughly
  • ¼ cup of olive oil, plus a little more for roasting
  • ¼ cup of tahini
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1-2 tbsp of Harissa spice (depending on how spicy you like things- you can find this in Bulk Barn if you have trouble getting your hands on it)

Start by coating your cauliflower with a little olive oil and covering it with the harissa spice blend.

Roast it at 375 for 40 minutes or until soft and golden. Dump the cauliflower, with the olive oil and spices into a blender. Add ¼ cup of olive oil and the tahini to the blender. Pulse until it’s the consistency of hummus.

This is an amazing dip to serve with crackers, pita, or a nice crudité. Let cauliflower be cauliflower. You can still #cleaneating, #vegan and #eatclean this all you want.

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