Here’s a fun part of my morning routine: realize, as I’m heading towards go-to-work time, that I haven’t packed a lunch; consider, as I dream of getting out the door on time, that maybe the take-out lunch options today won’t cost $12 and taste mediocre; and go back to the kitchen to improvise a brown bag lunch from the fridge. Leftover grains, extra roasted vegetables, a handful of nuts, some leftover chicken, and good grated cheese go into a travel Tupperware, and, hopefully, become more than the sum of their parts. Some lunches are good, even deliberate. Some are humble. I have a real affection for humble food, so usually my makeshift approach works okay.
Sometimes, it works out way better than okay.
One day a couple weeks ago, that routine produced this unbelievably delicious little grain dish. I had roasted cauliflower, I had cooked bulgur, and I had leftover salad dressing from a recent dinner. Naturally, I mixed this all together. At lunch, I went in thinking I’d be eating something humble but found I’d happened upon a flavor and textural synergy I didn’t expect. Perhaps it’s in the proportions: the grain and the vegetable sit at about equal levels in the final dish. Perhaps the success is some otherworldly manifestation of the Middle Eastern techniques I’ve absorbed during these months of experimenting with the region’s ingredients and methods. Or maybe it’s just a little narcissism: this exceedingly delicious salad is delicious because I made it, this morning, from almost nothing, and each bite helped cure the lunch blues.
This sponsored post is part of an ongoing collaboration with Sargento, called Flavor Journey. Throughout the year, with the support of Sargento, I’m exploring Middle Eastern cuisine–at home, in Brooklyn, at cooking classes, and wherever the flavors may take me. You can see the whole series here. Sponsored posts let me do some of my best work on this blog, and I only ever work with brands whose values and products mesh with the content I love to produce for you. Here’s my affiliate disclosure.
Bulgur and Cauliflower Salad
This works on its own as a side salad. If you’d like to make it into a brown bag lunch, a great idea is to cut a few Sargento mozzarella slices into squares. Add to the salad when you mix it all together, then let it rest so the cheese can melt and become gooey. Yum. This is actually done in Middle Eastern recipes with salty halloumi cheese, according to Claudia Roden.
For the salad
1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat)
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets and stems cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup chopped parsley
For the dressing
1 small garlic clove, minced with salt or grated on a Microplane
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Djion mustard
3 tablespoons best olive oil
1/2 teaspoon honey
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Place the cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss with the oil, sprinkle with salt, and bake for 40 minutes, until very brown on one side. No need to flip.
Meanwhile, in a small saucepan with a lid, bring 2 cups water to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and the bulgur. Stir to combine, then cover the pot and let it stand for 20 to 30 minutes, until bulgur is fluffy. If there’s still a little water in the pot, drain in a fine metal sieve.
Make the dressing: combine the minced garlic with the vinegar and the mustard. Whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, whisking the whole time so the vinaigrette emulsifies. Add the honey and a pinch of salt. Taste for balance of flavors, adding more salt or honey if too tangy.
Combine the cooked bulgur and the roasted cauliflower in the bowl with the dressing. Toss to combine. Add the parsley and toss again. Add salt to taste, and eat warm, room temperature, or cold.
This post is part of Food Network’s Fall Fest! See what everyone else is doing with cauliflower here:
Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Roasted Garlic Cauliflower and Potatoes
Devour: Cauliflower and Broccoli Mac and Cheese for Thanksgiving
Blue Apron Blog: Cauliflower “Mac ‘n Cheese”
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Roasted Cauliflower and Broccoli with Cranberries and Garlic Breadcrumbs
Red or Green: Cauliflower, Leek and Pepper Frittata
Virtually Homemade: Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon and Parmesan Cheese
Taste With The Eyes: Saffron Cauliflower à la Ottolenghi
Domesticate Me: Cauliflower Crust Pizza with Roasted Vegetables and Goat Cheese
The Sensitive Epicure: Cauliflower Flat Bread (Gluten-Free)
Weelicious: Cheddar Cauliflower
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Cauliflower with Cheese Fondue
FN Dish: Comforting Cauliflower Recipes