Nigella Lawsonfor Simply NigellaLondon, UKPhotos & Story by Lauri Levenfeld
“This book tells the broader story of how I live: how I feed my friends and family, the aesthetic pleasure I derive from food, and my belief that what and how we cook can make our lives easier, make us feel better and more alive,” says Nigella.
WARM SPICED CAULIFLOWER & CHICKPEA SALAD W/ POMEGRANATE SEEDS
Nigella -This is one of my favorite suppers, although there’s nothing that says you can’t serve this as a vegetable side as part of a more conventional meal. And you could also bolster it further by crumbling in some feta. But for me, it is perfect just as it is: the tomatoes almost ooze into a dressing in the oven, and the cauliflower softens, but not soggily. For choice, I’d always use home-cooked chickpeas (I cook batches in my slow cooker and freeze them in 1 1/2-cup portions for everyday use), but otherwise I like the pre-cooked Spanish chickpeas in jars. Yes, they are more expensive than the canned variety, but the cheapest option is always to buy dried. Don’t feel bad about using chickpeas out of a can, though – I have been known to, myself. One can’t always be so organized to have the freezer stashed with cooked chickpeas, and so I am always well stocked with canned chickpeas. They do work here, it’s just that they won’t be as soft; but then, you don’t necessarily need them to be. The cauliflower and juicy tomatoes can stand some nubbliness.
The parsley is not a garnish – ugh, that word – but used, here, as a salad leaf. And this is also very, very good cold, so if you have some left over, it makes a fabulous box lunch, or provides instant gratification on those days you have to eat fridge-side, with your coat still on, you’re so hungry.
SERVES 2 HEARTILY, OR 1 WITH LEFTOVERS
1 small head cauliflower
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF. Trim the cauliflower and divide into small florets. Pour the oil into a large bowl, add the cinnamon and cumin seeds, and stir or whisk to help the spices disperse. Tip in the prepared cauliflower and toss to coat. Pour the contents of the bowl into a small oven pan (I mostly use a disposable foil baking pan measuring 12 x 8 inches) and place in the oven for 15 minutes. Don’t wash out the bowl you’ve been using just yet.
2. Add the chickpeas to this bowl, and add the harissa, tasting it first to see if you want both tablespoonfuls, and, at the risk of being repetitive, toss to coat. Quarter the tomatoes and add them to the bowl, and shake or stir to mix. When the cauliflower has had its 15 minutes, remove the pan, quickly tip the chickpeas and tomatoes over the cauliflower, and toss to combine before returning to the oven for a further 15 minutes until the cauliflower is tender.
3. When it’s ready, remove from the oven and sprinkle the salt over the vegetables, then (and this isn’t the last time) toss to combine with half of the pomegranate seeds before dividing between 2 bowls. Divide the parsley leaves – without chopping them – between the 2 bowls and toss to mix. Scatter with the remaining pomegranate seeds.
STORE NOTE: Cool leftovers, then cover and refrigerate within 2 hours of making. Will keep in refrigerator for up to 2 days. Serve cold.
A RIFF ON A CAESER SALAD
Nigella-There are those who hold the view that a classic recipe is just that: a dish that’s earned its status because it, enduringly, works, and to fiddle with it is an act of desecration. It’s not a dishonorable stance, but I think it essentially flawed. The classics, in food as in literature, are the very forms that can withstand and, indeed, spawn a plethora of interpretations.
I have subverted the Caesar Salad before. In How To Eat, I replaced the traditional croutons with some mini-cubes of potatoes, roasted until crunchy, and tossed – still hot – into the salad, and often still make it thus. My new, heat-blasted version here is a greater deviation and, for me, it’s the perfect supper after a long working day, or a fine lunch on a leisurely Saturday. For those missing the crouton element, I suggest a large croûte, in the form of a piece of toast, brushed with extra-virgin olive oil, to munch alongside.
1 romaine heart
2 tablespoons regular olive oil
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely grated or minced
4 anchovy fillets (the sort packed in oil), finely chopped
zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon, plus 1/2 lemon to serve
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Parmesan to shave over
1. Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
2. Cut the romaine heart in half lengthways and lay both halves on a small baking or aluminum foil pan, cut-side up. Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, and chopped anchovies in a bowl, and spoon over the lettuce. Put the pan in the oven to cook for 10 minutes, then add the finely grated lemon zest and the juice and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes until wilted and slightly charred at the edges.
3. In a small cast iron or heavy-based, non-stick frying pan that is just big enough to fry 2 eggs – I use an 8 inches in diameter one – pour in the vegetable oil. When hot, crack in 1 egg, followed by the other, and fry until the whites are cooked through but the yolks are still runny.
4. Put a romaine half on each serving plate and top with a fried egg. Using a vegetable peeler, shave strips of Parmesan over each plate, adding 1/2 lemon, too, in case more is needed to squeeze over.
Recipe & Food Images Credit: by Nigella Lawson & Keiko Oikawa (Flatiron Books) of Simply Nigella. All other images by Lauri Levenfeld for The Project for Women.