Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Roasted Cauliflower & Orzo Salad

This started as a clean-out-the-fridge meal that turned into something amazing. Sometimes, happy accidents occur in the kitchen and this is one of them. The funny part is, I had to go out and re-buy the ingredients I was trying to use up in the first place in order to make this again and fine tune it for this post.

I used my favorite Raisin Fennel Bread for this recipe and it worked out splendidly. Any sort of crusty baguette will suffice, although the raisins really added something so throw in a handful if using a different type of bread.

I loved all the components of this dish: the caramelized cauliflower, the toasty croutons, the almost creamy spinach-flecked orzo and the astringency of the balsamic vinegar. However, I urge you to give plain old cauliflower this high-heat roasting treatment all on its own. It makes for an excellent side dish.

For 2-3 servings:

  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cubed crusty bread such as the Raisin Fennel Bread
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 3/4 cup frozen, chopped spinach, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2-3 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Heat the oven to 400 degrees. On a rimmed baking sheet, combine the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, red pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Toss to coat. Place the pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, stirring the cauliflower once. Add the bread cubes to the cauliflower and toss with a spatula to coat. Return the pan to the oven and roast for 5-10 minutes more until the cauliflower is browned and the bread cubes are golden and toasty.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo according to the package directions. During the last 2 minutes of cooking, add the spinach. Drain and return to the pot over low heat. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, the Parmesan cheese and salt to taste.

Pour the orzo onto a plate and spoon the cauliflower mixture over it. Drizzle with the balsamic and serve immediately.