Spice Merchant Cauliflower Couscous

By • March 7, 2013 82 Comments

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Author Notes: Opening a jar of spice is like magic. Adding a dash of spice to a simple dish, feels like letting a genie out of the bottle. A touch of cumin, a touch of lemon, a few good quality ingredients -- we think of the long journeys along the silk road, and remember that once upon a time spices were more precious than gold, tightly guarded, that they created civilizations, destroyed empires, and led to the discovery of new continents…

P.S. I learned the magic of turning the cauliflower into couscous from Sam1148’s post, http://food52.com/recipes/14493-cauliflower-couscous. It became a foundation for many wonderful dishes. It even made my daughter eat cauliflower, for which I will be eternally grateful.

Food52 Review: WHO: QueenSashy is a native New Yorker and a scientist who loves a lot of things, but does not love cilantro.
WHAT: A deeply spiced cauliflower dish masquerading as couscous. (Or is it the other way around?)
HOW: Blitz a head of cauliflower, let magic ensue, then mix it all up with a blend of spices, citrus, nuts, and raisins.
WHY WE LOVE IT: We were transfixed with the genius treatment of cauliflower in this dish -- that is, until we tasted the complexity of the spice, the nuts, the raisins, and the herbs. Nevermind that it's a gluten-free version of couscous -- we put it out for lunch one day, and counted the minutes until it was gone.
The Editors

Serves 4-6

  • 1 large cauliflower (about 1 ½ pound of cauliflower florets)
  • 5 ounces raw cashewnuts
  • 3 ounces sultanas (gold raisins)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon za’atar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely shredded lemon zest
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  1. Place the sultanas in a bowl and pour warm water over them. Leave the sultanas for about 15 minutes, until plump. Drain and discard the water.
  2. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Reduce the heat to medium low, add the cashewnuts and toast them for about 8 minutes, until lightly golden and gently charred. Stir frequently to make sure that cashewnuts do not burn. Let the cashewnuts cool. Cut the half of the cashewnuts into smaller pieces (or simply crush them with your hands).
  3. Break the cauliflower into florets, making sure to leave behind as much of the stem as possible. Chop the florets into smaller pieces. Transfer the cauliflower into food processor in batches, and pulse until the pieces are finely chopped and resemble couscous. Be careful not to over-process.
  4. In a large sauté pan, heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the cauliflower couscous to the pan and cook for about 7 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Remove the couscous from the heat and let it cool. Add the sultanas, cashewnuts, za’atar, cumin, parsley, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  6. Leave the couscous for about 15 minutes for the flavors to combine. Serve at room temperature.

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