After making a number of dishes from Dinner: Changing the Game, it’s time to be honest with myself. As much as I want to love Dinner: Changing the Game, I can’t, because it’s not quite the perfect package. It’s excellent for entree ideas that are interesting, relatively low effort and time, and pretty good. I wish it was excellent for entree ideas that were interesting, relatively low effort, and jam-packed with delicious flavor. You see the difference?
Just as with the lentil and pasta dish I posted, this roasted cauliflower salad with chickpeas, tahini, avocado and watercress is good. Most of the ingredients were already in my cabinet and I didn’t have to spend much time assembling it (except for the part where I couldn’t get the dressing to blend. I have a wide-based Vitamix, and I sometimes struggle with “small-scale” recipes that are meant to be blended because there isn’t enough in the jar for the blade to work with. I wound up adding almost all of the chickpeas to have enough volume in my jar to work with). I enjoyed eating it and it left me satisfied. However, I don’t feel an immediate need to make it again. There are other salads out there that I can’t get enough of (like this mango cabbage salad).
Are you feeling my lack of enthusiasm? Don’t get me wrong. This is a good salad. Its great for a weeknight salad and it’s contains a ton of flavors I really love. It’s just that in combination I didn’t find them to be as amazing as I’d hoped. Somewhere along the way all the lovely fresh flavors of lemon, sumac, orange, tahini, mint, parsley, and vinegar become a muddle that is less than the some of it’s parts. This roasted cauliflower salad with chickpeas, tahini, avocado is also the kind of salad that needs to be eaten right away, because cold roasted cauliflower is limp and even a bit sodden compared to freshly roasted cauliflower.
This recipe yielded more dressing than I needed, so I remade this salad using riced cauliflower, which I thought worked a lot better than the florets, and spinach instead of the watercress. It was still pretty good, still not great.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chickpeas, Tahini, Avocado and Watercress
- 1 medium head cauliflower cored, cut into 1.5-inch florets, and riced
- 1/2-3/4 cup olive oil extra-virgin
- 1 1/4 teaspoons Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas (2/3 of a 15-oz can, rinsed and drained)
- 4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh orange juice
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 3/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- 3/4 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 3/4 cup fresh mint leaves
- 1 garlic clove grated or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon ground sumac
- 1/8 teasppopon crushed red pepper preferably Aleppo or Urfa
- 1 bunch watercress
- 1 avocado pitted, peeled, diced, for garnish
- toasted sesame seeds for garnish
- 1/2 teaspoon orange zest finely grated, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Line two rimmed half sheet pans with parchment paper. In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower (florets or riced) with 1/4 cup of the olive oil, 1 teaspoon of the Kosher salt, and 4-5 grinds of black pepper. Sprinkle the dressed cauliflower in an even layer over the two prepared sheet pans, then roast in the preheated oven, stirring occasionally, until browned in spots and just tender (about 20 minutes for riced, 35 minutes for florets). Let cool to just above room temperature.
Meanwhile, make the dressing in a blender by combining 2 tablespoons of the chickpeas with the lemon juice, orange juice, tahini, rice vinegar, honey, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup of the parsley leaves, 1/4 cup of the mint leaves, garlic, sumac, and crushed red pepper. Blitz until smooth. (Depending on the width of your blender base, this may be difficult to accomplish and may take several repetitions of scraping down the jar and restarting the blender).
With the blade running, drizzle in 2 tablespoons (or up to 1/2 cup)* of the remaining extra-virgin olive oil.
Wash the watercress, spin or pat dry, then trim off the stem ends. Place in a large clean bowl, together with the warm roasted cauliflower, remaining whole chickpeas, and the remaining 1/2 cup each of parsley and mint leaves. Toss with dressing to coat, check for salt and pepper levels and adjust to taste. Serve with the diced avocado, toasted sesame seeds, and orange zest on the side as optional toppings.
*I used only 2 tablespoons in my dressing and I found it to be the perfect consistency for me, but the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup, so your desires may differ from mine when it comes to adding oil to your dressing.