Sunday, September 9, 2012
Spoon Salad and Cauli-rice Cups to Go
Cauliflower. You could consider it boring. I mean, it really doesn't taste that amazing. Kinda bland on its own. Growing up, my mom could only get us to eat it one way--with cheese sauce. Good news is that cauliflower adapts so well to all sorts of flavors. You already know the drill. We low carbers mash it to replace mashed potatoes. We boil it for "tater" salad. We roast it to replace popcorn. We bake it into desserts. We even cut it up really fine to replace rice. That is one of the things I did today with a fresh head of cauliflower. But I do it a little differently sometimes. Alright I am lazy. I admit it.
My sons refuse typical cauli-rice. Just not their thing. Well, one son actually calls cauliflower "nature's snot." Guess I overcooked it for him on some occasion. A whole head is a bit much just for the hubster and I, and ricing it is a mess. So here's what I opted for today, and I think it is working out fine.
I had planned to put a Spoon Salad on the menu this week. That requires finely chopped cauliflower. I do that in my Ninja. Even a girl trying to eat more salads can only eat so much, though. So the rest, I packed into little silicon muffin cups and froze. These are going to be great for work lunches. They reheat in the microwave and can still be doctored up to go with so many things we may be packing for lunch. So which first? The spoon salad or the Cauli-rice cups?
The Spoon Salad is nothing new. I have had the recipe in my Diner News before. The idea is to chop sturdy vegetables really, really finely. Make sure to chop things that don't have too high a water content or spoil too quickly. You can add those in just before you dine if you like.
Start with hard veggies. I like mostly cauliflower and cabbage here, but a bit of carrot or jicama is good too. Process those together in a food processor. I use my Ninja. Maybe not quite as good, but it does the work. Don't try it in a blender.
Next choose some medium textured veggies. I like all colors of peppers and a little red onion for flavor and color. I have heard of using zucchini, but it can get a little watery. Process them until finely minced. Stir them in with the hard veggies.
Next, I do the softer, leafy greens. I like kale the most, but you can also use spinach, like I did today. Add in some fresh herbs. My choice today was rosemary and chives. Mint is good, basil is wonderful. I also like Lemon Balm. Process those and remember to pulse to avoid turning them into mush. Add those in with the hard veggies, and stir well. Store the salad in a covered container. I like wide mouth jars. Don't add dressing yet.
When lunch time rolls around, spoon some salad on your plate and drizzle with your favorite dressing. I like vinaigrettes here with a bit of feta cheese sprinkled on top. Sometimes I add a pinch of chia seeds for extra nutrition. Don't put those in the day you make it or you will get sprouts. These salads should stay good for the work week as long as your ingredients were fresh. The proportions are up to you. Again, method not recipe.
Now with that extra minced cauliflower I had. This is a little finer than I make with my usual cauli-rice. I like it that way so that it gets more tender with very little cooking. For today, I pre-cooked it in the microwave for three minutes, along with some diced bell peppers. I was going for the confetti rice look. Partially cooking keeps the cauliflower from totally becoming mush in its upcoming meal, when it will finish cooking when I warm the dish. Stir in some sea salt to taste, or add in some tamari.
I scooped this mixture into silicon muffin cups and froze them. These are going into a gallon bag. Then, I can easily add them to lunches when I have leftover sauces from dinners. This week they are matched with chicken curry. They will also be great to eat with teriyaki steak, fajita chicken bites, basically anything we would typically like rice with. If you don't have a sauce, you could even just thaw and eat these with some salad dressing.
So nothing too fancy here. Just a couple of Diner style time savers. I only have to clean the food processor once, and several meals have a side dish covered. That is how I do it.