Sweet & Nutty Cauliflower

Morley FieldsI wasn’t one of those kids who wouldn’t eat their vegetables. A complete omnivore, I would eat anything and try everything at least once, and that included fruits and vegetables picked right off the plant. I just brushed off the bugs and ate around the wormholes. Before poison berries were bred out of the suburban hedges, I ate those too.

This was partially because I was a something of tomboy who never backed down from a dare. I ran barefoot all summer without much as a tetanus shot, had rocks dug out of my eye from canyon fort fights, and could climb trees faster than a bear. I caught bees and spiders and lizards with my bare hands, hunted for skunks and had my share of pet snakes and rodents. I didn’t turn my nose up at too many things, and food certainly didn’t scare me.

So, I don’t understand how other people who claim to be red-blooded, country-raised, meat-loving folks would turn their noses up at anything either, especially vegetables. How can people brag about hunting and living off the land unless they are willing to, well, live off the land?

But I do understand the politics of food, and get why some people would hold the concepts of organic farms and veganism in fearful disdain. These things are revolutionary to some, and as such are threats to the capitalist order. Local farming, heirloom seeds and grass-fed meats are middle fingers to the likes of Monsanto and ConAgra. But even Adam Smith would stand back and respect the market desire for better food and healthier lives. As clean food becomes more mainstream, the market will adjust. Whole Foods will be the next conglomerate, and Robeks will be among the next big fast food chains. And even if you don’t agree, what are you afraid of? Are your convictions so frail that they cannot stand up to the weight of a little quinoa?

Okay, so I won’t try to convert you to quinoa just yet. Let’s start easy. This is one of those recipes, in which the mild taste of cauliflower, responds perfectly to a light roasting and pairing with sweets and nuts. What’s more, it is suspiciously easy – this is a modified version of Claire Robinson’s 5 Ingredient Fix, which speaks for its own simplicity.

1 head cauliflower florets
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup pine nuts
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ cup pitted dates, chopped

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Evenly spread the cauliflower on a baking sheet, drizzle the olive oil over and toss; season with the salt and pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, tossing with a spatula around halfway. There should be a little browning, not too much. Meanwhile, put the butter in a small skillet over medium-low heat. When melted, add the pine nuts and cook, stirring frequently until they’re light golden brown, just about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and dates and continue cooking 2-3 minutes more, and season with salt. Transfer roasted cauliflower to serving bowl and toss in the pine nut mixture. Enjoy the revolution.

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