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A bit on the side: roast cauli & chickpea salad

July 21, 2010

The other day, with a whole heap of folks coming to dinner, I had one of those crises of confidence in which you are suddenly convinced there won’t be enough food.

In our case this is almost always wrong (as indeed it turned out to be this time), but nevertheless the point came during the afternoon before a biggish gathering when Senor and I stood together peering into a huge pot (of Neil Perry’s cinnamon lamb) and asked each other, ‘Do you think there’ll be enough?’

Of course there was. But during that moment of doubt I recalled that in the fridge were a cauliflower and half a bunch of spinach, and the cupboard always has chickpeas. And I had for weeks wanted to try making a version of a delectable simple chickpea, silverbeet & cauliflower number I’d eaten twice now at Bodega (the Surry Hills tapas restaurant which I reckon must have some of the most blindingly delicious and original food in Sydney).

So I gave a version of this salad a try, as a little side dish to go with the tagine and the couscous, and it was not half bad. Next time I’d make the cauliflower florets larger as mine became a little too soft (and the Bodega cauli is deep-fried, I think, rather than roasted), but I have to say the flavour and texture was quite delicious. It’s a perfect quick side dish and chock full of goodness.

Roast cauliflower, spinach & chickpea salad

  • olive oil
  • ½ bunch English spinach, stems finely chopped & leaves roughly torn
  • ½ head cauliflower, broken into smallish florets
  • 1 cans chickpeas, very well drained
  • salt
  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • tsp cumin
  • juice 1 lemon
  • few sprigs coriander, to garnish
  1. Break cauliflower into small florets, toss in a bowl with a good few glugs of olive oil till well coated, then spread over a baking tray and roast in a hot oven for around 30 mins or until golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, heat olive oil over high heat and add drained chickpeas. Add salt & agitate in the pan until the chickpeas are well coated and begin to turn golden.
  3. Remove chickpeas with a slotted spoon to kitchen paper.
  4. Finely chop the spinach stems and add to the hot oil, fry till the pieces begin to crisp. Turn off the heat and add the leaves until they wilt.
  5. Gently mix the chickpeas, roasted cauliflower and spinach with the garlic  in a bowl. Add the lemon juice and cumin, adjusting to taste.
  6. Serve with a little chopped coriander to garnish.

And now, friends of the oyster, I am taking a fortnight away from blogging – am off to a writing retreat to try to finish my novel. See you soon!

6 comments

  1. Oh, thank you – I’m always on the lookout for filling and delicious salads. Am def taking notes on this one.

    To involve slightly less oil, say, for a weekday lunch rather than dinner for ten, do you think it would work without frying the chickpeas and spinach? With baby spinach, perhaps…

    Hope your writing retreat goes well!


  2. Yum – and I love the obvious versatility of this, too… plenty of potential for ingredient swapping. Also I think one of the most satisfying dishes is the one made from whatever is to hand – it always makes me feel a bit clever in an otherwise dunderheaded existence.

    I wish I knew another language, like Italian or French, in which to write something beautiful and inspirational to send you on your trip… but I’m afraid it’s English or bust. Knock ’em dead.


  3. Write well dear Charlotte.


  4. Is there a web cam in my fridge? I had a whole cauliflower rolling around.

    This worked really well Charlotte – even a hardened anti-chickpea-er (not me!) enjoyed it.

    Half of recipe was good for two hungry people, as companion to chicken in cumin, coriander etc with yoghurt and harissa. Next time I might try cooking the garlic with greens,or maybe just chop it finer. Or a pinch of hing/asafoetida?


  5. Hello everybody, how lovely to see you’ve all been here chatting while I was gone. And thank you for your kind wishes for the novel; I finished the third draft in a very intense week of full-body immersion in the world of the novel…phew! Fingers crossed it worked.

    Lizabelle, I think it would be totally fine and delicious with less oil. And Doctordi I too feel very virtuous and clever using stuff from the fridge without having to go shopping. Jules, I love the sound of that chicken – do share, if you please?

    Nice to be back. I will be back properly v shortly!


  6. You are single-handedly responsible for introducing me to the joys of roasted cauliflower and I love you for it. I made this salad tonight for dinner, but used silverbeet and added cherry tomatoes as the garden is full of them. DE. LI. CIOUS. Thank you!



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