It’s been a busy and chaotic year so far. I can’t believe it’s already July and that Summer is almost halfway over. It really feels like I’ve blinked and missed it all. So many exceptions to this year have caused an unusual lifestyle for me - I have three sisters all engaged, all getting married this year…within 6 months of each other. Naturally, they all live in LA (where I’m from), and I’m in all the wedding parties. Anyone who has been part of one knows the…commitment they require on an emotional / physical / financial level. So, I’ve been traveling a lot, to say the very least. July is the first month I will not travel to LA since March.
This 2016 lifestyle of mine has led me to understand certain things about my myself. I could never be the kind of person who travels all the time and is never home (no matter how many amazing things I could see). I am incredibly introverted (more than I thought I was) and require a substantial amount of alone time. Especially these days, there’s nothing I want more than to have no plans, to wake up early, to cook my meals leisurely and off the cuff. With all the socializing and traveling, I’m craving aloneness and in a similar realm - slowness, which I can say I almost never want. I’ve always been the high-energy/high-intensity type who only has one speed. But this shakeup of my schedule and lack of control (my usual nemesis), is causing me to turn the dial down a bit.
This salad came out of one of those moments. A Saturday with no plans, a ton of vegetables and an appetite. I spent my time, slowing down - leisurely making pesto, slicing radishes, etc. These are the moments when cooking feels like everything to me. Those slow weekends when I’m alone in my kitchen - it’s what my soul requires. So, maybe this salad seems like a lot of steps: pickling, processing, cooking, chopping, but for me - the longer it takes, the better. It’s a weekend recipe - meant to be prepared with no timeliness at all and savoring each and every step. It’s an ode to cooking - not just because it feeds you (and often tastes good) - but that there’s something else happening. I believe, something magical.
CAULIFLOWER LENTIL GRAIN SALAD WITH PUMPKINSEED PESTO & PICKLED RADISHES (gluten-free, vegetarian)
- 1 cup quinoa, dried
- 1/2 cup french lentils, dried
- 1 lb. cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, grated
- 1 cup chopped medjool dates
- 3 purple scallions, sliced
- 3 large handfuls of baby arugula
- 1-2 lemons, juice
- Sea salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
PUMPKINSEED ARUGULA PESTO
- 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, juice & zest
- 1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 1 cup baby arugula, packed
- 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small bunch of radishes, sliced thin on mandolin
- 1 fennel stalk, fronts & stalk roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon coriander (seeds or ground)
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
In a saucepan, bring 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups of salted water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Then set aside to cool. In another saucepan, add lentils with enough water to cover by 2-3 inches (salt the water, too). Bring to a boil, then simmer (covered) about 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse. Set aside to cool.
For pickled radishes: In a pint-sized jar, add radishes, fennel fronds, mustard and coriander seeds. In a small saucepan, bring apple cider vinegar, water, maple syrup, salt and pepper to a boil. Once liquid just boils, carefully pour into the jar, making sure radishes are completely covered in brine. Cover and set on the counter to cool. Once it’s cooled, store in the fridge. They will be “ready” to eat in about an hour.
For Pesto: In a food processor, add pumpkin seeds, garlic, lemon (juice & zest) and parmigiano. Process until desired consistency (I like mine more on the pureed side). Then add salt, pepper and arugula. Pulse until entire mixture is green and arugula is well-combined. While the processor is running, stream in about 1/4-1/3 cup olive oil or until desired texture. Set aside.
Add cauliflower to a food processor and pulse until it resembles rice (you can use the same one as the pesto). Add to a large mixing bowl with grated zucchini, dates, scallion, and arugula. Toss together with quinoa, lentils and arugula. Season with salt, pepper and lemon juice (to taste). Toss together to make sure salad is well-combined.
To serve, top each plate with a generous dollop of pesto and pickled radishes. For some extra decadence, add a drizzle of olive oil, but you don’t totally need it. Serve immediately or save for later (the leftovers were still great on day 3).