I’ve been working for a few weeks on ideas for a Mother’s Day (Sunday, May 10, 2020) post featuring new and/or newer books I’m recommending for great gift-giving, especially since a lot of it will need to be done long-distance in some way. (Books ship easily. Amazon will even wrap them.) Could even be for Father’s Day, right? Or graduation? Or wedding? (I’m unsure how those last two are being accomplished this year. Lord, Lord.) And lest you think I’ve given up on it, I haven’t. I bought the books, have pored over them happily and have been, ingredients being what they are these days, cooking the books to coin a phrase. I’m just not done. Soon. It’s gotta be soon as we’re getting full cooking this stuff! Two of the books lean French; the other veers toward the Brits, though my version is written for Americans. It is too fun to cook from other people’s recipes, to see how they put the book together, and do little but enjoy the whole process from looking at the photos to eating or drinking the beautiful victuals. Writers who’ve recently published a book are simply not getting the chance to promote their work as they have in other years; there are no book tours, many fewer media opportunities, and so on. It’s a good time for food bloggers to step up to the plate and lend a hand promoting our favorite authors. It’s just that I’ve a few things left to do before you see it all!
Dave, too, has gotten a kick out of it –helping with the shopping, the prep, and the taste-testing, of course.
So while I thought the “Cooking the Books” was happening this week, it just didn’t and here I am on Thursday already. Watch this space soon for that post, but in the meantime, I thought I’d quick-like-a-bunny share a way fun salad, or main dish, or starter, or… Call it what you will, it’s something scrumptious to chow down on anytime.
Cauliflower has, for the last few years, been a huge trending food topic. Not here, though. I mean, I love cauliflower, but I want it to look like or at least taste like cauliflower. I don’t want it for rice and I’m not making it for pizza crust — though I would if my granddaughter, who follows a gluten-free diet, wanted it! No, if I’m eating cauliflower I want it sautéed and laid up with tons of silky cream and salty Gruyere and crispy ham, or oven-roasted and served with soft, spreadable lemon cheese, or maybe puréed up in some divine soup. Even cold and served with store-bought French Onion dip in a real pinch.
One morning recently, I got an email with a little recipe newsletter that had a note about air fryer cauliflower. I was intrigued; I was smitten. I was getting that Air Fryer out of the pantry tootie sweetie. I had a sadly browning cauliflower right in my fridge, too. But I didn’t exactly know what I’d do with it once it was cooked. I loved the idea of an appetizer with dip and, to be honest, that would have been the easiest as I have the cheese dip for vegetables frozen. Somehow, though, I liked the idea of a salad. Could be with an Asian twist? Did I have cilantro? I did. Peanuts? Always, even if they are salted. Something for garnish? Yep; I had green and red–the top garnish colors. What about a dressing? A soy and ginger vinaigrette it had to be. I’d made one before, but couldn’t remember how, so I looked it up on the great epicurious dot com and made my own spicy changes. And I was off to the races. You should be, too. If you haven’t an air fryer taking up space under your sink or in your garage, you can oven roast or pan roast the cauliflower. It will be awesome. And if you’ve stowed your air fryer away since Christmas without ever having opened it, this is the time. (It’s basically a really fast counter top oven. You set the temperature and the time and cook whatever…. Well, that’s the main idea anyway. If it’s not done, you put it in for a couple more minutes. No real complicated bells and whistles on mine. Nothing approaching an electric pressure cooker. Go unpack it.)
However you make it, I’m guess you’ll like this. Especially if your mouth is the sort that goes all gaga over garlic and ginger. If that’s so, this is your day. Try this:
Air Fryer Cauliflower Salad with Ginger Vinaigrette
- Air Fryer
- 1 small head of cauliflower-cored, trimmed, with leaves removed—cut into ½-inch thick pieces (Try to keep them at least an inch or two in length.)
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- ½ red sweet bell pepper-cut into small dice—GARNISH – (+/or whole slices)
- ¼ cup diced cucumber—GARNISH- (+/or whole slices)
- 4 sprigs of fresh cilantro—GARNISH
- ¼ cup chopped salted peanuts—GARNISH
- Ginger Vinaigrette–recipe below in notes
- Set air fryer temperature for 390 degrees Fahrenheit and preheat for 5 minutes. Toss the sliced cauliflower with the canola oil and ¼ teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper—or to taste. Spray air fryer basket with cooking spray.
- When the fryer is preheated, add ½ the cauliflower pieces evenly in one layer into the pan. Fry for 6-7 minutes or until tender and crispy, turning pieces over half-way through the cooking time. Fry an extra minute or two if you like things crispier. Remove cooked cauliflower to a bowl; cover to keep warm. Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
- Divide fried cauliflower between two or three plates. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Garnish with peppers, cucumber, cilantro, and peanuts. Drizzle generously with vinaigrette. Serve warm or at room temperature.
CHANGING IT UP: Add shredded chicken, grilled shrimp, or roasted pork. Serve on a bed of shredded cabbage or fresh greens. Scoop up a little rice onto the side of the plate; drizzle with soy sauce or garnish with minced green onions. Use broccoli instead of cauliflower. Add sautéed snap peas and matchstick carrots. Or ______________________________.
ABOUT THE SIZE OF YOUR AIR FRYER: If you have the extra large model fryer, you’ll probably have room to cook all of the cauliflower at once. I have a regular size air fryer, which is good for two people or one with leftovers, so I cooked it in two batches.
There’s an up and down to these days at home…but there’s also a freedom involved. The time when we’re cooking and baking as much as we are right now maybe never come again. If you have a bucket list for your stove and oven –or for anything else– this is the time to start checking it off. Eat well; be well.