Meatless Monday: Roasted cauliflower mint salad with citrus cashew dressing

A flavoring of mint will bring a hint of spring to any dish. Combine with bright with citrus flavors in a dressing and transform hearty, smokey roasted cauliflower into a fresh, seasonal meal.

Beyond The Peel
Roasted cauliflower with a creamy citrus cashew dressing is given an added crunch with toasted hemp seed 'breadcrumbs.'

There are some flavors that make you feel like it’s spring, no matter what the temperature is outside. Take dill for example. There’s nothing “winter” about dill. No matter how you shake a stick (or magic wand) at it. Mint is the same. So while the snow was falling and the temperature dropped to below 0 C., I decided to eat “spring” until it decided to show up.

I have good news!

Spring is here. There are no sub zero temperatures in the forecast, in fact it will be down right balmy. Balmy for Canada at any rate. If the forecast holds true  (pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top), this girl just might have an outdoor shower in her future.

And the second reason I know spring is here: I heard something magical this morning. Not the chirp, chirp, chirp of birds singing, but rather the thud, thud, thud thuthuthuthtut, of the grouses mating call, who just happened to be in my yard this morning. I don’t know exactly how to describe it. It’s a sound I’ve never heard before coming out to this place. I liken it to a generator starting up, but with less shrill, and much more deep and guttural. It was a glorious way to wake up. Spring is indeed here.

And second, this warm salad is so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it. I actually made my way through two heads of cauliflower in a matter of days. Embarrassing? A little. But yeah, if one is to chow down on something, far better to be cauliflower than say, brownies or poutine. Which I have been guilty of both in the past.

The hemp seed “bread crumbs” are completely addicting and fabulously grain free and nut free. I look forward to trying it out on a vegan style mac and cheese soon. If you don’t feel like running out and buying some just to make this, please don’t feel obliged. It’s delicious either way. I know because I finished eating the “breadcrumbs” out of the bowl, not leaving myself any for my second helping.

So long story to say I had it both ways and it's good either way.

The longest part is the dressing. Which in all honesty is not complicated, but is better made ahead. At least in my blender making the cashews creamy takes about 5 minutes, maybe a little longer. This makes the dressing warm. I like the dressing at room temperature, so it’s nice to let it rest in the 'fridge for 30 minutes. The rest just kinda gets thrown together. Use as much mint or as little mint as you like, the cauliflower – however much you think you might eat. I left measurements for the salad ingredients, but the amounts are flexible. Because this salad is perfect at room temperature, it also makes a great party or potluck salad.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

2 lb. head of cauliflower

1 onion, sliced into wedges

2 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup fresh mint, chopped

Citrus Cashew Dressing (recipe to follow)

Hemp Seed “Breadcrumbs” (recipe to follow)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Cut the cauliflower into florets and place in a single layer on 1-2 baking sheets. Add the onion wedges and sprinkle with olive oil.

3. Roast for 25-30 minutes. Turning once during the last 10 minutes.

4. Place the cauliflower in a large salad bowl. Toss with raisins and mint.

5. Drizzle with Citrus Cashew Dressing and sprinkle with hemp seed bread crumbs. Serve immediately.

Citrus Cashew Dressing

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in 1 cup of water

Juice of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 orange

2 tablespoons each, olive oil and red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup, honey or agave (adjust to taste)

1 garlic clove minced

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced

1 teaspoon each orange rind and lemon rind

1/2 teaspoon salt and fresh ground pepper

1. Soak the cashews for 1 hour.

2. Drain the cashews.

3. Add the cashews and all the remaining ingredients to the blender. Blend until smooth. Stop the blender from time to time to push the cashews that splatter along the side of the blender back down to get the entire mixture smooth. This will take 5 – 10 minutes. It depends on the power of your blender.

Note: This recipe will stiffen after refrigerated. If you find the consistency too thick, you can thin it with a couple tablespoons of water.

Hemp Seed “Breadcrumbs”

I used hemp hearts (raw shelled hemp seeds) from Costco. They’re a good deal and at least for me, relatively local, being grown in Manitoba. If you have a nut allergy, they are a good replacement in pestos as in this one here, and make a great addition to smoothies.

 3 tablespoons hemp hearts

1/2 teaspoon oil

1/2 teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (I use La Chinata)

Scant 1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all the ingredients in a small frying pan over medium heat. Stir and toast the seeds until fragant and just starting to turn golden brown. Sprinkle as a topping for salads or even soup.

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