Thursday, August 15, 2013

Spice Merchant Cauliflower Couscous

Dear folks from food52 emailed today to let me know that I am in the finals of "Your best portable side" contest, "competing" with a dear fellow food52-er drbabs. It takes so little to make a girl happy. Which is a good thing, right? Creating happiness out of tiny, insignificant things is a true achievement, and I am quite proud of myself for reaching such a level of spiritual enlightenment. And I am especially happy that it is the Spice Merchant Couscous that's being recognized, as I always felt that the use of spice is one of my fortes in the kitchen. As well as my love and deepest respect for spices. Opening a jar of spice is like magic. Adding a dash of spice to a simple dish, feels like letting a genie out of the bottle. A touch of cumin, a touch of lemon, a few good quality ingredients -- we think of the long journeys along the silk road, and remember that once upon a time spices were more precious than gold, tightly guarded, that they created civilizations, destroyed empires, and led to the discovery of new continents…

Spice Merchant Cauliflower Couscous

* 1 large cauliflower (about 1 ½ pound of cauliflower florets)
* 5 ounces raw cashewnuts
* 3 ounces sultanas (gold raisins)
* 5 tablespoons olive oil
* 4 tablespoons lemon juice
* 2 tablespoons minced parsley
* 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
* 1/2 teaspoon cumin
* 1 garlic clove, crushed
* 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon zest
* salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Place the sultanas in a bowl and pour warm water over them. Leave the sultanas for about 15 minutes, until plump. Drain and discard the water.

2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the cashewnuts and toast them for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and gently charred. Stir frequently to make sure that cashewnuts do not burn. Let the cashewnuts cool. Cut the half of the cashewnuts into smaller pieces (or simply crush them with your hands).

3. Break the cauliflower into florets, making sure to leave behind as much of the stem as possible. Chop the florets into smaller pieces. Transfer the cauliflower into food processor in batches, and pulse until the pieces are finely chopped and resemble couscous. Be careful not to over-process.

4. In a large sauté pan, heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower couscous to the pan and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.

5. Remove the couscous from the heat and let it cool. Add the sultanas, cashewnuts, za’atar, cumin, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

6. Leave the couscous for about 15 minutes for the flavors to combine. Serve at room temperature.

 Serves 4-6

p.s. I learned the magic of turning the cauliflower into couscous from the following post by the fellow food52-er Sam1148. It became a foundation for many wonderful dishes. It even made my daughter eat cauliflower, for which I will be eternally grateful.


  1. Made this last night. Doo good! Love the flavor combo.

    1. Hi Laura, many thanks for letting me know. All the best, Aleksandra


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