Often, when I go pick up my CSA box they give us choices between a couple of different vegetables: swiss chard or kale, broccoli or cauliflower, green or yellow zucchini. I have to admit, this week I chose my vegetables solely based on colour. Even though we generally prefer broccoli, I simply couldn’t resist this bright yellow cauliflower and a yellow zucchini to match. Now all I had to do was to figure out what to do with them.
As I lamented a couple of weeks ago, I don’t really know what to do with zucchini. However, my last zucchini adventure turned out pretty well so I figured I would come up with something, and if it all went down the tubes at least it would be beautiful to look at, right?
Luckily, I was more than happy to eat this cauliflower and zucchini salad. More often than not, when I make a salad it is to get some extra freshness and green on the plate. I throw together whatever fresh vegetables we have in the fridge, mix it up with a simple dressing and that’s the end of it. While this serves me well, it is often nothing to write home about. This on the other hand, has everything that I love in a salad. While you can’t just throw it together in under 5 minutes, it is totally worth it to me.
First of all, the roasted cauliflower and zucchini are simply dressed but I love a warm component and it gives the salad enough body that it can legitimately be eaten as a light lunch. The cranberries steeped in vinegar provide a sweet and sour element and last but certainly not least, the roasted hazelnuts tossed in sumac and chilli flakes give it a little kick and crunch.
The combination of the hazelnuts, cauliflower and zucchini was inspired by a number of Ottolenghi recipes that combine those flavors. I have never used hazelnuts in a savory application before and it definitely works. It’s also a nice departure from my standard walnut or almond that I usually use in salads. Sauteeing the nuts in some sumac and chilli flakes is also from one of Ottolenghi’s recipe. If you have never tried sumac before, try and get your hands on it. It is quite mild but provides the nuts a distinct lemony, slightly smokey flavor that you can’t replicate with another spice.
This salad was inspired by a number of recipes that I saw by Ottolenghi which combined hazelnuts with both zucchini and cauliflower.
You can definitely forego a number of the processes in this recipe (i.e. steeping the cranberries in vinegar) but the end product really benefits from each of the different steps.
Preheat oven to 425F
Toss cauliflower and half of your sliced zucchini with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on baking tray lined with aluminum foil. Roast for approximately 20 minutes, until florets start to brown.
With 5 minutes to go, add hazelnuts on a separate baking tray lined with aluminum foil and roast.
In a small pot combine vinegar, cranberries and water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until cranberries are plump. Discard any extra vinegar at the bottom of the pot.
Once cool, chop roasted hazelnuts and in a small pan toss them with olive oil, sumac and chilli flakes. Cook for 2-3 minutes.
In a bowl toss cauliflower, cooked and raw zucchini slices, cranberries, hazelnuts and lemon juice.