The other day, while driving home from an event in San Francisco, The Artist and I were discussing the foods traditionally served at Thanksgiving. Despite being rather ambivalent about the taste and quality of the side dishes, some people absolutely demand to have sweet potatoes with marshmallows and a green bean casserole on the table. Wouldn’t it be more interesting and fun to offer a change of pace dish that really complements the roast turkey?
I know – you’re thinking why in the heck am I talking about Thanksgiving recipes already. We just had Halloween! But this is when I start planning, thinking through what recipes I want to make, figuring out how to balance the expectations of the classics with some new bites to keep everyone on their toes.
This is my newest take for a holiday vegetable side dish. I combined two of my favorites, cauliflower and an unusual seasoning for you to try, Dukkah. One taste and I’ll bet you become a fan too!
If you haven’t tried Dukkah yet, it is an Egyptian seasoning blend that is often made with a combination of very finely chopped nuts, sesame seeds, coriander and cumin. Incredibly versatile, you will love how Dukkah transforms an ordinary dish into something special. The exact mixture varies depends on who is making it, but is addicting. My personal favorite is from Spice Ace in San Francisco. You can also use it with olive oil as a dip for bread, on grilled meats, or like I did sprinkled on fresh vegetables.
If you want a more traditional flavor profile to match your Thanksgiving turkey, you can use poultry seasoning in place of the Dukkah. You can also make your own version of Dukkah by following one of the many recipes available on the Internet.
I wasn’t always a cauliflower lover. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was willing to give it another try. My mother never cooked it and I was suspicious of the “brain-like” vegetable. What a shame, because cauliflower is now one of my favorite vegetables. I love its subtle flavor and value how well it works with a wide variety of sauces, seasonings, and other treatments.
A lot of people like to serve cauliflower for their holiday meals, but tend to load it up with heavy sauces. As much as I love cheese and a good cheese sauce, when I am putting together my holiday meals, I am always looking for lighter side dishes to offset the typically rich main entrée. This dish is cooked in olive oil and is healthy as well as delicious.
The other thing that makes this a delightful side dish for the holidays is that you can prep the ingredients ahead of time and toss the dish together in less than 30 minutes. It doesn’t require a lot of steps or ingredients, and just needs an occasional shake of the pan or stirring. You can easily keep an eye on it while finishing the gravy and slicing the turkey.
If you dare, risk the chance of grumbling at your holiday table and step out of the norm. Make something different for this year’s meal and give your family a chance to try something new and unique!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
Use a small, sharp paring knife to cut up the cauliflower. It will give you more control as you separate the florets from the core. Always rinse the whole cauliflower – especially if it is organic – and then again once you’ve cut it into florets.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, leaves removed, cored, and cut into florets
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp dukkah seasoning (a combination of sesame seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander, hazelnut meal, salt and black pepper) or poultry seasoning
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp chopped green onions or chives, for garnishing
- 1 tbsp sliced almonds, for garnishing
- Rinse the cauliflower florets and pat dry. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the shallots and cauliflower and cook, stirring often, until the cauliflower is mostly tender (pierce it with a fork, you should feel mild resistance), about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the dukkah, thyme, lemon juice, salt and pepper, tossing until the cauliflower is evenly coated and is tender. Taste and adjust seasonings.
- Transfer to a warmed serving bowl, garnish with chopped green onions and almonds. Serve immediately.
- Yield: about 4 servings
Create a New Tradition Today!
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