Spent the past few days unpacking having just moved from DC to NYC.  Closets and cabinet space are clearly a luxury in Brooklyn.  It’s amazing how much stuff you can cram into 840 square feet (no space goes unused).  I don’t think we have that much “stuff.”  That being said, I’ve managed to acquire a good amount of kitchen belongings (one of the hazards of food blogging — along with an addiction to pottery and wood cutting boards).  Our place is still a mess, and after nearly a week of sleeping on an air mattress, waiting patiently for our furniture to arrive, I’m physically and emotionally beat.
As our apartment slowly takes shape, this is a dish I’ve been meaning to post.  A simple little side dish with lots of good flavor — Charred Cauliflower with Chermoula (topped with toasted almonds).I always crave vegetables or a big plate of greens/salad with dinner.  In fact, often times, dinner here consists of a big salad and plenty of hearty, crusty bread.  A meal is not a meal without some sort of vegetable on my plate.  While I’m not vegetarian (am an equal opportunity eater as I always like to say), vegetables are a must; they complete a meal.

A quick saute of greens with minced garlic, a squeeze of lemon, and salt and pepper, are a mainstay here.  However, sometimes I crave something other than the same old, same old.

What’s chermoula??

Chermoula is a North African (pesto-like) sauce made from herbs (commonly, parsley and cilantro), oil, lemon (and/or preserved lemon), garlic, and spices.  Chermoula is traditionally served as an accompaniment to fish, but also pairs nicely with roasted vegetables, meat, chicken, etc.

 

Love the addition of preserved lemon zest to the chermoula.  Am kind of obsessed with preserved lemon.  It’s one of those ingredients that adds such a unique flavor to any dish.

Preserved lemon is easy enough to make.  Refer to this post on preserving your own lemons.

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An additional step — certainly worth the effort — is to toast and grind your own spices.  Toasting whole spices brings out more of their inherent flavor, and only takes a few minutes.  Just heat a skillet, add the whole seeds to the dry skillet — shaking the pan periodically — until the seeds release their fragrant aroma (making sure they don’t burn).  Thereafter, grind the toasted spices to a powder, either in an electric spice grinder or by hand with a mortar and pestle or molcajete (pictured below).

The crispy charred bits of cauliflower are always the best.  The key to charring the cauliflower is getting your pan (used a cast iron skillet) smoking hot.  Cut the cauliflower into florets, toss into the hot pan with some olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss from time to time until nicely browned in spots and tender, but toothsome.

 

Chermoula

1 cup of packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup packed parsley leaves
2 cloves of garlic minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 small serrano or jalapeno chile, chopped
1/2 zest of half of a preserved lemon, chopped
2 1/2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice, more or less to taste
1/3 to 1/2 cup olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to blender, pulse until well combined.

For the Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
toasted almonds, roughly chopped

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat.  Add the oil (a couple of tablespoons) and the cauliflower florets.  Season with salt and pepper.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until fork tender and charred in spots.

Spoon the chermoula over the charred cauliflower.  Sprinkle toasted almonds on top.

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This is THE VEGGIE dish I MUST try soon. Your photos are so gorgeous, and I truly love your recipes, esp. the preserved lemon one 🙂

P.S. I totally understand your frustration, Linda. When I moved from L.A to SF, 2 years ago, I went (almost) crazy with the lack of storage at the new place.
So nice of you to post for all of us even when you are super busy 🙂

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