Let me take you inside one of my favourite day dreams…
It’s lunchtime, or maybe just before, and your tummy has just started to rumble a little. You are walking down a suburban city street. Tall trees line the wide footpath and flowers blossom in window boxes; bright splashes of red and yellow against the brickwork. Further down the street you happen upon tables set out on the footpath, and a bell tingles as the shiny glass and wood door opens and a waitress steps out with a tray filled with bowls of fresh salads. She delivers them with a smile and then holds the door open to admit you.
As you step over the threshold you are welcomed into a small but substantial café. Tables are intermingled with bookshelves, which are stacked to the brim with used books ready to be read by patrons as they nibble their lunch or coffee time treats.
Here I am, standing behind our long wooden counter. A curved glass window over part of the counter displays our selections for the day: hearty salads filled with grains and beans and delicious things; fresh baked sweet treats small and large; seasonal fruits and locally made dairy delights. You order, we exchange smiles, and then you are free to choose a table, await your lunch, and wile away some time with a book, or simply watching the crowds drift by.
Thank you for indulging me, dear reader.
In one of my day dreams I have the best healthy lunch spot in town with dishes to nourish body and soul. We serve cake, and salad. And applaud both choices. In my dreams, I bet this Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad would be on high rotation in the winter months. The natural sweetness of cauliflower is coaxed forth by time in the oven, and rendered crispy by a high temperature. Tiny grains of millet swell when boiled with herbs and spices. The whole lot comes together with the fresh grassiness of parsley, tiny jewels of apricots and almonds and a generous squeeze of lemon juice. This is light, bright winter fare that does just as well for a desktop lunch or a winter potluck, and because it’s gluten free and vegan everyone can enjoy a serving. And because it’s served at room temperature, you can make it ahead and just add the parsley and lemon at the last moment.
Crispy Cauliflower and Spiced Millet Salad
Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegan | Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
- ½ medium head cauliflower
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons almonds
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon dried ginger
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ uncooked millet
- 1 cup vegetable stock (reduced salt)
- ¼ cup dried apricots
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ cup (packed) parsley leaves
- Preheat oven to 220C (430F). Line a medium sized baking tray with aluminium foil.
- Cut cauliflower into small/medium sized florets. Toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and spread across prepared baking tray. Roast for 30-40 minutes or until cauliflower is slightly browned in spots and cooked all the way through. Remove, place in a large bowl, and allow to cool at room temperature.
- Sprinkle almond across baking sheet and toast in oven for 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
- Dice onion and crush garlic.
- Add remaining olive oil to a medium sauce pan and place over a medium heat. Add onion and garlic.
- Combine cumin, coriander, rosemary, ginger and paprika and add to onions. Cook until onions are softened.
- Rinse millet well and drain thoroughly. Add millet and vegetable stock to the sauce pan. Bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook without stirring for 20-25 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.
- Remove from heat and allow to sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
- While millet is cooling, roughly chop almonds and apricots.
- To finish: combine cauliflower, millet, almonds and apricots in a large bowl. Squeeze over lemon juice and then toss with fresh parsley.
- Serve with a smile.