Sheet Pan Chermoula Chicken and Cauliflower with Smoky Red Pepper Sauce

Winner Winner Chicken (Sheet Pan) Dinner:

Chermoula Roasted Chicken and Romanesco

You’ve probably heard of sheet pan dinners. The term may be trendy, but the concept is not. It simply means arranging all of your dinner components on a rimmed baking sheet, coating them with oil and seasoning, then roasting in the oven – and, voilà, you have a complete dinner on a tray. While the emphasis is certainly on ease of preparation, with the right ingredients this cooking method ensures maximum flavor. Oven roasting coaxes out the flavors of vegetables and meats and is a sure-fire (no pun intended) way to cook to crispy, golden perfection. The key to building great flavor is the ingredients you use to coat and bind the dish. They can be as basic as olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, or more elaborate with aromatic marinades, spices, herbs, and citrus.

This recipe combines two ingredients that are well suited for roasting: bone-in chicken thighs and romanesco, a green brassica, which looks like a cone-headed cauliflower. Importantly, they both require a similar amount of cooking time, so they can happily team up on a baking sheet without one ingredient over-cooking while the other keeps on roasting. (You can also use white cauliflower in this recipe.) A potent, herbaceous chermoula sauce, robust with garlic, lemon, and spices, coats the whole lot and drives in flavor.

The finishing touch to this recipe – not required, but recommended – is a smoky red pepper sauce for swiping and drizzling. It’s inspired by Spanish romesco sauce (not to be confused with the romanesco vegetable!) and traditionally consists of roasted tomatoes and ground almonds or hazelnuts. This smoother rendition uses roasted red peppers to create a sweet and smoky condiment.

Chermoula Chicken and Cauliflower Sheet Pan Dinner

Active time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour, plus marinating time
Serves 4

Chermoula Sauce:
1 1/2 cups Italian parsley leaves and tender sprigs
1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves and tender sprigs
1 cup fresh mint leaves
Juice and finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
4 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1/2 cup olive oil

8 bone-in chicken thighs with skin

Red Pepper Sauce:
2 jarred roasted red peppers, drained and rinsed, coarsely chopped
1 red jalapeno pepper, seeds and membranes removed (optional), coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 medium head romanesco (or white cauliflower)
Cilantro sprigs for garnish
Lemon wedges for serving

1. Combine all of the chermoula ingredients, except the oil, in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse to chop. Add the oil and pulse to blend. The chermoula should have a runny salsa consistency. If too thick, add more oil to loosen.
2. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Pour in the chermoula and stir to thoroughly coat, rubbing the marinade between the skin and meat. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before roasting.
3. Combine all of the red pepper sauce ingredients in the cleaned bowl of a food processor and process to blend. Taste for seasoning. (The sauce may be prepared in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
4. Heat the oven to 375°F.
5. Cut the cauliflower from crown to stem in 3/4-inch slices. Cut out the cores and cut the cores into bite-size chunks. (The cores are sweet and edible, so don’t discard them.)
6. Remove the chicken from the marinade and arrange, skin-side up, on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush the cauliflower steaks and pieces on all sides with the residual marinade and arrange around the chicken. Season everything with salt and black pepper.
7. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast until the romanesco is tender and the chicken is golden brown and cooked through (it should register 165°F when a meat thermometer is inserted into the thickest part closest to the bone), about 30 minutes.
8. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve with lemon wedges.

Elegant Sides: Pureed Cauliflower

A light and silky alternative to mashed potatoes:

Silky pureed cauliflower

Can you ever get tired of potatoes? No, you firmly say, and I would agree. Sometimes, however, a fluffy-creamy-comforting side dish is called for, and potatoes (shocker) just don’t do the trick. Usually it’s simply a menu issue, meaning potatoes are not a perfect match to the main dish. Think shellfish, for instance, such as scallops or shrimp. Or a cuisine that doesn’t traditionally include potatoes. Step in, cauliflower. There’s something a little magical about this gnarly crucifer. Eaten raw, its flavor is pronounced in an earthy, grassy, unmistakably cruciferous way. When steamed, it transforms into something else, morphing into a buttery, milder version of itself – slightly sweet, a little fresh, and beautifully enhanced with, yes, butter. When roasted, it becomes something else entirely, evoking adjectives which include caramelized, nutty, and crisp. I made this puree recently to accompany a dinner of slow-cooked lamb. It goes equally well with just about anything.

Cauliflower Purée

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Makes about 2 1/2 cups

The chicken stock adds great flavor to the purée. If you prefer a vegetarian version, substitute vegetable stock. Alternatively, you can use water, but adjust the seasoning accordingly.

1 large head cauliflower, florets and core cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, loosely packed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish
Fresh thyme leaves

Place the cauliflower and chicken stock in a large pot. Bring the stock to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and process until smooth. Add the cheese, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper and process to blend. If the purée is too thick, thin with additional spoonfuls of the stock to your desired consistency. Serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and extra black pepper.

Cauliflower Purée

cauliflower puree tastefoodCan you ever get tired of potatoes? No, you firmly say, and I would agree. Sometimes, however, a fluffy-creamy-comforting side dish is called for, and potatoes (shocker) just don’t do the trick. Usually it’s simply a menu issue, meaning potatoes are not a perfect match to the entree. Think shellfish, for instance, such as scallops or shrimp. Or a cuisine that doesn’t traditionally include potatoes. Step in, caulflower. There’s something a little magical about this gnarly crucifer. Eaten raw, its flavor is pronounced in an earthy, grassy, unmistakably cruciferous way. When steamed, it transforms into something else, morphing into a buttery, milder version of itself – slightly sweet, a little fresh, and beautifully enhanced with, yes, butter. When roasted, it becomes something else entirely, evoking adjectives which include caramelized, nutty, crisp, and addictive. I made this puree recently to accompany a dinner of slow-cooked lamb. It goes equally well with just about anything.

Cauliflower Purée

The chicken stock adds great flavor to the purée. If you prefer a vegetarian version, substitute vegetable stock. Alternatively, you can use water, but adjust the seasoning accordingly. Makes about 2 1/2 cups.

1 large head cauliflower, florets and core cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups chicken stock
1/3 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, loosely packed
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1  teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for garnish
Fresh thyme leaves

Place the cauliflower and chicken stock in a large pot. Bring the stock to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 20 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the cauliflower to the bowl of a food processor. Add 1/4 cup of the chicken stock and process until smooth. Add the cheese, butter, garlic, salt, and pepper and process to blend. If the purée is too thick, thin with additional spoonfuls of the stock to your desired consistency. Serve garnished with fresh thyme leaves and extra black pepper.

Roasted Cauliflower Pizza with Calabrian Chiles and Green Olive Tapenade

I’ll get right to the point. The star of this pizza is the tapenade, which teams up with oily fiery Calabrian chiles in a smashing combination. Sprinkled over roasted cauliflower, fresh peppers and creamy mozzarella, this is one fresh and feisty pizza. The tapenade is so good, you might find yourself munching spoonfuls straight from the bowl, smearing it on a piece of bread, or swiping the prepped cauliflower through it before you have a chance to assemble the pizza. So make a double batch – then you can have your nibbles and eat your pizza, too.

Pizza with Roasted Cauliflower, Calabrian Chilies and Green Olive Tapenade

Calabrian chilies may be purchased in the Italian specialty section of your grocery store. When selecting the fresh chile peppers for the pizza topping, try to select a variety of sweet and hot to your taste. Be sure to taste each pepper before using, as the heat will vary from pepper to pepper. I used an Anaheim and a mild Fresno pepper on this pizza. Serves 2 to 4.

For the pizza:
2 cups cauliflower florets cut into 1/2-inch pieces, about 1/2 medium head
1 cup thinly sliced assorted chile peppers, such as Fresno, Hungarian, sweet red
Extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon  salt, or to taste
1  favorite fresh pizza dough – enough for one large pizza
1  (8- ounce) ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, shredded
2 tablespoons chopped Calabrian chiles
1/2 cup Green Olive Tapenade
1/4 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest
Freshly ground black pepper

Make the pizza:
Preheat the oven to 500°F (or prepare the grill for direct cooking over high heat) and preheat a pizza stone on the lowest oven rack or on the grill grates.
Toss the cauliflower and sliced peppers with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Thinly roll out or stretch the pizza dough to desired shape on parchment paper. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Scatter the mozzarella over the dough, then spread the cauliflower and peppers over the crust, keeping a 1/2-inch border all around. Scatter the calabrian chilies on top, then evenly sprinkle the pecorino cheese all over the pizza. Slide the pizza onto the preheated pizza stone. Bake until the cauliflower is tinged, the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a cutting board. Drop teaspoons of the tapenade over the pizza. Drizzle with a little olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon zest and black pepper.  Serve immediately.

Cauliflower Gratin

cauliflower au gratin

Just as we like to wrap ourselves in warming layers in the fall, we can do the same with our vegetables. Cloak your favorite hardy veggies in béchamel and cheese, and your simple summer staples will morph into a warm and comforting side dish. I found yellow cauliflower at the market the other day and mixed it with white cauliflower in this gratin. Don’t just experiment with color. Get creative with other veggies, such as  broccoli florets, chunks of celeriac or diced rutabaga for variety and flavor. As long as there is a blanket of cheese and bechamel, this gratin is a winner.

Cauliflower Gratins
Serves 6 as a side dish

1 large head of cauliflower, broken into bite-size florets
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 ounces Gruyere (or sharp Cheddar) cheese, grated
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs, lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375 F. (190 C.)  Butter 6 individual ramekins (or a gratin dish).
Steam the cauliflower until crisp tender. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, and cook until light golden, about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the milk in a steady stream, whisking constantly, the continue to cook, stirring, until the bechamel thickens. Remove from the heat and whisk in the mustard, salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Add  the Gruyere cheese, whisking until smooth. Pour the bechamel over the cauliflower and stir to thoroughly coat. Spoon into the ramekins. Combine the Parmesan and panko in a small bowl. Sprinkle over the tops of the gratins. Bake until golden on top and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Veggie Fried Farro

Veggie FarroPosted by Lynda Balslev

Farro stands in for rice in this easy stove top dinner. Cooked farro is added to a sauté of seasonal chopped veggies – in this case cauliflower, peppers and purple kale. It’s a great way to use up your veggies  Almonds are an optional addition, adding extra protein and great crunchy texture to this satisfying dish.

Veggie Fried Farro

I used what I had on hand from the farmers market, including bok choy flowers for garnish (not necessary but very pretty).

Serves 4

1 cup farro
1 1/2 cups chicken stock (or water)
Salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 small head cauliflower, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, diced
2 gypsy peppers (or 1 sweet red bell pepper), stemmed and seeded, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 heaping cup coarsely chopped kale leaves
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Freshly ground black pepper

Bring the farro, stock or water, and 1 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the liquid is absorbed and the farro is tender, about 45 minutes.

Heat the oil and red chili flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and carrot and sauté until crisp-tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the peppers, garlic, cumin, and paprika  and sauté  until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the kale and sauté until the kale wilts, about 1 minute. Stir in the farro, almonds and cilantro. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Serve warm.

Warm Cauliflower Couscous with Lemon and Chiles

Cauliflower couscous tfCauliflower Couscous – Posted by Lynda Balslev

The secret to this gluten-free side dish is cauliflower – not as an addition to a salad of couscous grains, but as a replacement. That’s right – it’s all cauliflower, finely chopped to the size of couscous or rice grains, then tumbled with lemon, chiles and fresh herbs. Cauliflower holds its texture beautifully, either raw or, in this case, sautéed, providing a mild, nutty flavor and firm bite that will likely leave your dinner guests stymied and then pleasantly surprised.

Warm Cauliflower Couscous with Lemon and Chiles
Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

1 small head cauliflower, about 1 1/4 pound
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 thin scallions, white and green parts thinly sliced
1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and seeded, finely chopped
1 sweet “Jimmy Nardello” pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. Remove the leaves and core of the cauliflower. Coarsely chop the florets and place in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the florets are finely chopped, 10 to 12 times.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and salt and sauté until beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the garlic, paprika, cumin, and red chili flakes, Continue to cook until the cauliflower is tender but not mushy, 3 to 4 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Taste for seasoning. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Salmon and Spinach Chowder

It’s the time of year for bowl-food. When the weather is grey, wintry and cold, there’s nothing more satisfying then a big bowl of dinner. Steaming hot and full of hearty healthy flavors and ingredients, it’s meant to be eaten with big spoons and napkins to catch the dribbles.

I love to eat chowders year round, especially in the winter when creamy dishes hit the spot. I often add a number of ingredients to my chowder in addition to the requisite fish. While most firm fleshed fish work in chowders, my favorite is salmon. Its buttery oil-rich flesh shines in a creamy stock and is a perfect accompaniment to earthy vegetables, crucifers and greens.

We don’t usually have left-over salmon in our house, since it’s often gobbled up the moment it hits our dinner plates. In the rare occurrence when there is some filets left, I’ll often add them to the next day’s chowder. While this recipe starts with the premise of using raw fish, pre-cooked leftovers work just as well. Considering how expensive salmon can be, this is a great way to get two fabulous meals from one purchase. You just need to be lucky enough to have the leftovers.

Salmon and Spinach Chowder

Feel free to improvise with your greens. Kale or chard may be substituted for the spinach. If you are cauliflower-averse, you can omit it and add extra spinach.

Serves 4

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 medium yukon gold potatoes, about 3/4 pound, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 1/2 cups bite-sized cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon Tabasco
1 cup heavy cream
1 to 1 1/4 pounds salmon filet, skin and pin-bones removed, cut in 3/4-inch chunks
1 bunch fresh spinach leaves, stems removed, torn into large pieces
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chopped dill

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the water and whisk to blend the flour. Add the potatoes and cauliflower. There should be enough water to cover the vegetables. If not, add more water to cover. Simmer, partially covered, until vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the paprika, Tabasco, and cream. Bring to a simmer. Add the salmon and simmer until cooked (or heated) through. Stir in the spinach and briefly cook until bright green in color and wilted, about 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with fresh dill and serve immediately.

Roasted Cauliflower with Chilies, Lemon and Mint

cauliflower tastefoodEat your vegetables – Roasted Cauliflower

It’s a hunch, but I would be willing to bet that you could persuade the most ardent veggie haters to try this cauliflower recipe. Roasting cauliflower magically transforms the snow white crucifer with cabbage-y notes into a tender yet crispy, caramelized treat, coaxing out its natural sweetness and nuttiness. Simple seasonings, such as paprika, salt and pepper gently enhance the flavor. You can serve it simply like that, or go the full Monty and toss it with chilies, lemon and mint.

Roasted Cauliflower with Chilies, Lemon and Mint

Sambal Olek is a Southeast Asian chili sauce. It’s Middle Eastern cousin, Harissa, may be substituted. Serves 4.

1 large head cauliflower
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Finely grated zest from 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
Harissa or Sambal Olek

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the cauliflower, top to bottom into 3/4-inch slices. (Slicing the cauliflower will provide flat sides which will brown easily when roasting). Cut away the thick stems, and gently break the florets apart into large bite-sized pieces. Place in a large bowl. Add the garlic, 2 tablespoons olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Gently toss to coat, then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet. Some of the florets will break into small pieces, but that’s ok – the little bits will get nice and brown while roasting.

Roast on the bottom rack in the oven until the cauliflower turns brown on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Transfer the pan to the top third of the oven and continue to roast until golden brown on top and tender, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Drizzle with extra olive oil. Drop small spoonfuls of sambal olek over the cauliflower and garnish with lemon zest and mint. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra chile sauce on the side.

Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup

Cauliflower Potato Soup TasteFood

~Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup ~

Making purée, er, soup doesn’t get simpler than this. It began as a purée. I made a light and fluffy Cauliflower and Potato purée to accompany a stew this week.  However there was so much purée left over, I thinned the remainder with extra chicken stock and renamed it soup. It’s clearly all about the cauliflower, thickened with potato and spiked with a little garlic and piquant Pecorino cheese. Add just a little stock and you’ll have a light and airy side dish. Add more stock and you’ll have a satisfying winter soup. And since it’s the holidays I fancified both purée and soup with a generous pinch of gifted truffle salt sprinkled over the top.

Cheesy Cauliflower Potato Soup
Serves 6

2 yukon gold potatoes, about 1 pound
1 medium head cauliflower
4 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
1 quart chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Fresh thyme leaves
Truffle salt (optional)

Peel the potatoes and cut in 1-inch chunks. Cut the cauliflower florets and core in 1-inch pieces. Peel garlic. Smash 3 of the cloves and mince 1 clove. Place potatoes, cauliflower and smashed garlic cloves in a large pot. Cover with water. Add 1 tablespoon salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 25  minutes. Drain. Transfer half of the vegetables and butter to the bowl of a food processor. Puree until smooth. Add remaining vegetables. Puree again. Return vegetables to soup pot. Add minced garlic. Add chicken enough chicken broth to achieve desired consistency (the soup should not be too thick). Bring to a simmer and add cheese, stirring to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with additional cheese and fresh thyme as a garnish. Optional: Sprinkle with truffle salt.