It’s been an interesting first half of the week so far. My laptop got sick on Sunday, very sick, like cannot get out of bed kind of sick, and I had to take it to the computer doctor the next day. Had to wait another day for the diagnosis, which was followed by a bleak prognosis and my laptop is still at the doctor’s, three days later. My initial concerns have turned to despair now, knowing that I may have to say good bye without ever having the chance to recover all my precious data. I’m still holding out hope but as of now the status of all my developed recipes, drafts, photographs, blog ideas/plans are left undetermined, if not irrevocably lost to the deep dark recesses of the corrupted hard drive. You would think I would have learned my lesson and backed up my data regularly considering this has happened to me once before. Guess I never did. This time though the lesson is a lot harsher and I’m writing that one sentence down 500 times in my mind to make sure it sticks.
On the plus side I had more time away from the kitchen and out of the house. It’s bitterly cold outside though and there’s still a coating of snow on the ground with the first snowfall of the season only a few days ago. Yet there I was walking to Downtown, with my ears and nose red from the cold, looking like Santa’s Rudolph, to handover my laptop to the computer doctor. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. On my way back I had a greasy slice of Pizza for lunch.
Later that evening, I was needing something comforting for dinner – it had been that kind of day – but also something healthier to scrape off the remnant pizza grease from my guts and my conscience. I took a peek inside my fridge and the Cauliflower just jumped out at me (not literally jumped out of course, that would’ve scared the bejeesus out of me!). I had been saving it for a Cauliflower bake, but given the circumstances a change of plans was in order. The result was this amazing Spiced Cauliflower “Couscous” with Chicken! I couldn’t have made a better call! It was that good!
There is a reason why Cauliflower “couscous” is so popular. It’s so easy to make and the end result is worth so much more than the effort you put in. Cauliflower is such a versatile vegetable but often times it’s treated like a neglected middle child. It has a grainy texture that some are not fond of, it can be overcooked fairly easily and it isn’t exactly bursting with flavour either. However this recipe for cauliflower couscous takes advantage of exactly those characteristics and with a little bit of love and attention turns it into a bona-fide star! I loved eating cauliflower and cheese when I was young and later I would make curries with it and even use it as a cream substitute when making Mac n Cheese. However once turned into faux couscous they take on a life of their own and can easily substitute rice from any dish too.
Spiced Cauliflower "Couscous"
- 17.5 oz/ 500g Cauliflower florets washed and patted dry
- 1/2 a medium Red onion sliced
- 1 clove of Garlic chopped
- 1 1/2 tsp Cumin
- 1/2 tbsp Chilli flakes
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1/4 cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 1 tsp salt more to taste, if needed
- 2 Lemon wedges
- Handful of Chopped Parsely
- Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse until Cauliflowers resemble small grains (or traditional couscous).
- Heat 1-2 tbsp of oil on a skillet on medium heat. When heated, add the raisins and almonds to toast them slightly.
- Add the onions and garlic and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the onions and garlic for about 30 seconds, till the pan is nice and hot.
- Add the processed cauliflower, cumin, chilli and salt to the hot pan, and start sauteing the cauliflower with the spices.
- Cook the cauliflower till it browns slightly for about 10 minutes.
- Taste the cauliflower and add more salt if needed.
- Sprinkle Parsley over the warm couscous.
- Serve while warm, with a wedge of lemon to squeeze on top (optional - but I like the zesty freshness it adds!)
Simple Grilled Spiced Chicken
- 4 bone-in Chicken thighs
- 1 heaped tsp of All spice
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2-3 tbsp oil
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- In a bowl, place the All spice, pepper, salt and sugar.
- Add the oil and vinegar and mix to form a runny paste (marinade for the chicken).
- Place the chicken pieces in the marinade and rub the spices all over the chicken making sure they are well coated.
- Leave to marinade for about 3 hours to overnight.
- Heat a little oil on a griddle pan or non-stick pan on medium heat.
- Cook the chicken skin side down when the oil is heated. Let it cook for about 8-10 minutes (depending on how big the piece of chicken is).
- Turn over the chicken, and cook further for about 8-10 minutes or until cooked through. (If you prick the chicken with a fork the juices should run clear, when it's done).
- Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on top if desired when serving.
Like I said, the trick is in how you dress up the dish. Once sauteed and cooked to perfection with all the spices and then adorned with the bright purple onions, raisins, almonds and herbs, this is an incredibly tasty dish that’s also light/healthy, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian/vegan (without the grilled chicken of course!). Seriously, how much better can it get?
I absolutely love the look of this “couscous” dish. And what’s even better is that you can serve this warm, at room temperature or even cold. It works fine in any of those ways! And with the holidays coming up, I honestly cannot think of a better Thanksgiving side dish either that is both light and complements traditional Thanksgiving flavours well. Cauliflower “couscous” is especially popular among those with dietary restrictions (wheat/gluten sensitivity) but it’s time we all embraced this flavourful dish and gave cauliflower its due credit. And there probably isn’t a cheekier or more effective way to sneak some vegetables into your kids’ bellies either. Or with a piece of tasty, spicy, crisp-skinned grilled chicken in the middle, this could be the most satisfying meal even the hardcore meat-lovers will enjoy!
I will keep making bright, warm food in my kitchen to dull the pain of the potential death of my laptop. With Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up, there really is no time to slow down is there? I will keep my fingers crossed hoping my data will be salvaged, so I won’t have to tear my hair out, but will at least keep my tummy happy with this amazing Couscous in the meantime. It is almost time for Foodie Friday and Fiesta Friday, so I will soon be in the company of some lovely ladies and lads too of course! That is sure to brighten up the weekend ahead.
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