Is it too soon to talk about cauliflower? New Year’s resolutions often involve healthy eating and fresh starts but it is only January 1. It’s a day for hangovers – both food and alcohol – and resting from the holiday festivities. But if you’re interested in something with less booze and more vitamins then cauliflower tabouli will be waiting for you.
Let’s be clear; this is not a healthy dish that makes you feel virtuous and yet a bit deprived. It’s a one-for-one substitution of cauliflower for bulger wheat which means the final dish tastes like traditional tabouli plus. It’s not a Jessica Seinfeld-style attempt to hide vegetables in a dish; you know there’s cauliflower in this dish. But unlike bulger, which is largely filler and often tasteless, it adds a little something to the dish.
‘Eat your vegetables’ is often accompanied with the thought of tasteless and boring meals or at least unappealing side dishes. But if your goal this year – or ever – is to eat more healthily it doesn’t have to be that way. This dish is vibrant and flavorful and bright, especially alongside all those winter braises, and incidentally, it’s also an extra serving of vegetables on your plate. Not a bad way to kick off a New Year’s resolution.
1 head cauliflower
1 medium bunch parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cup mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp chile flake
2 scallions, chopped, about 1/4 cup
2 tsp kosher salt
1 clove garlic
1 tomato, finely chopped*
1/4 olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tbs
Cut the cauliflower into florets and remove the stem piece. If you have a large food processor you can grate the cauliflower using the grating blade and it takes only a few minutes. But if you don’t have one you can just finely chop the cauliflower florets into small pieces – grating it by hand will make a big mess as the florets tend to fly everywhere on a grater.
Once you’re grated or chopped the cauliflower, combine it in a large bowl with the chopped parsley, mint, and scallion. Add the chile flake and 1 tsp of salt. Turn the garlic clove into paste by chopping it roughly and then sprinkle the pieces with the other 1 tsp of salt. Press the flat part of the knife into the pile of garlic and salt and drag the flat past across so that you crush it into the board. Scrape the garlic and salt into a pile and then press/drag the knife across it again. Repeat this until the garlic and salt make a paste.
Add the garlic paste and the chopped tomato to the bowl along with the lemon juice and olive oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes before serving so the flavors can meld. Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.
*Winter tomatoes are generally not great so if you make this in the winter you can either leave it out or roast the tomato at 475F for 15 minutes and then chop it up finely. The roasting will caramelize the sugars and get rid of the mealy feeling unripe tomatoes have.