Ahhh, couscous! The food so nice they named it twice. Except this isn't really couscous. It's cauliflower. And I feel like I won a gold medal in the kitchen when my couscous loving husband didn't bat an eye while he gobbled up this "pretend" version. I'll be the first to admit I don't usually like when food is referred to something it's not. However, the texture is so close to the real deal you won't miss a beat and honestly, I wouldn't know what else to call it!
Cauliflower is one of my favorite vegetables we grow on our farm. We are still a few weeks out until our cauliflower is ready, but other farms in our valley are already harvesting this lovely brassica and I was really excited to get my hands on some!
Cauliflower is so tender in the spring that it seems silly to toss it in the oven. Don't get me wrong, roasted cauliflower is one of my favorite side dishes and despite what I just said, I'll probably end up roasting some very soon. However, right now I'm enjoying as many vegetables as I can in their most pure state.
The mediterranean flavors really shine in this simple spring salad and the roasted chickpeas add a lovely crunch. Grab a fork and dig in! Cauliflower "couscous" is a winner in our household and I hope you all enjoy it as much as we do.
Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad with Roasted Chickpeas & Lemon Dressing
Serves 4 to 6
For the chickpeas:
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas OR 1 (15-ounce) can drained, rinsed and patted completely dry
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dijon style mustard
1 clove of garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the salad:
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 red onion, diced
1/3 cup kalamata olives, finely chopped
1 English cucumber, finely chopped
1 cup parsley, finely chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a bowl, combine the chickpeas with spices and oil. Lay them in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the oven until slightly browned and crisp, about 35 to 40 minutes. Toss chickpeas halfway through cooking time.
To make the dressing, combine the lemon juice, mustard, garlic and salt in a bowl. Drizzle in olive oil while whisking continuously. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Set aside.
Place the cauliflower florets in the bowl of a large food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower reaches a fine, crumbled consistency. Be careful not to over process; you don't want to puree the cauliflower at all. (For step-by-step instructions, see How to Make Couscous Out of Cauliflower.)
Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl and combine with the cherry tomatoes, onion, olives, cucumber, parsley, pine nuts, and crushed red pepper flakes. Toss well. Slowly drizzle with dressing and season to taste with salt and pepper. Once seasoned add roasted chickpeas and serve.
The roasted chickpeas won't stay crispy after a day, so enjoy them right away. The salad can be made a day ahead of time.