It’s April, the sun is shining – well, it was a minute ago – and it is so tempting to get the asparagus recipes out. Which we most certainly will before the month is out. There is very exciting news in the offing on the asparagus front, but we’ll sit on that for a few weeks more.
Meanwhile, try your hands at this variation on one of our new lunch dishes. Trading as a salad, one substantial enough to be a meal in itself, it is open to endless interpretation and can play many other roles. With less grain and no cheese, it makes a lovely side dish; served warmer than room temperature, it might well be called a pilaf and take on a side dish or two of its own.
And, of course, you can play around with the ingredients. Once you start the sentence in your head with ‘roast cauliflower…’ the rest is a matter of your taste and what you have in the fridge and cupboard.
Farro is generally used to make that risotto-like dish, farrotto, but it makes for a toasty, chewy salad grain too. You might prefer couscous, quinoa or millet. You might even prefer to replace the grain with some roast fingerling potatoes, and the other vegetables with green beans, fennel, summer or winter squash. As well as feta, blue cheese is lovely with cauliflower, though not necessarily with sesame, probably prefering a light, citrus or sherry vinegar based dressing. And so on…have fun playing with it and when you’re done we’ll be feasting on asparagus and the summer will be laid out before us, with all of its usual promises…
1 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons yoghurt
zest & juice of 1 lemon
200mls olive oil
2 teaspoons harissa paste
1 medium cauliflower, in florets
2 teaspoons coriander seeds, cracked
1 teaspoon turmeric
4 medium carrots, in thick diagonal chunks
4 cloves garlic, halved
1 green pepper, thickly sliced
watercress, coarsely chopped
small bunch mint leaves, chopped
small bunch of parsley, chopped
120g feta, crumbled
Preheat the oven to 400f.
Toss the cauliflower and coriander seeds with the turmeric and two tablespoons of olive oil in an oven dish. Roast for 10 minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and beginning to brown.
Toss the carrots and garlic in a little olive oil and roast in another dish for 15-20 minutes, until tender.
Toast the faro in a heavy pan over medium heat for five minutes, then add the water or stock, bring to a boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes until the grains are tender. Drain and transfer to a large bowl to cool to room temperature.
To make the sesame yoghurt dressing, whisk a little warm water into the tahini until it takes on a thick pouring consistency. Stir in the yoghurt and season with salt.
To make the lemon-harissa oil, put the ingredients in a jar and shake, whisk or blend until they become emulsified.
Add the cauliflower, carrots and green pepper to the faro, and toss with a generous amount of the sesame yoghurt dressing.
Just before serving – either in a large dish or individual bowls – stir in the watercress and herbs, drizzle some lemon-harissa oil over and scatter some crumbled feta on top.