I took a little break from the blog. Not because I do not love spending time on this space, but because I chose to soak up those face-to-face moments with some loved ones rather than get out the camera, open up my screen, or lose myself on the keyboard. I did not stop cooking. Far from it, but the meals were a little haphazard, thrown together with the odds and ends from things in the fridge and the freezer. I dug up beans and grains that I had frozen an unknown number of months ago, tossed frozen pesto that I had made when basil was ubiquitous into soup made of vegetables past their prime. We ate out quite a bit, savoring that time with family and friends rather than fretting over a grocery list or a dirty kitchen. I have thought about sharing my "real life" moments with you on Instagram, but there are quite a few reasons why it never seems to happen. For one, I enjoy the freedom of having my phone tucked away in my bag or in another room of the house, especially when I am with real live breathing people right in front of me. I am also a slow poke at posting on social media of any kind, so I fear that it would take away from me being able to participate in conversation or being able to hold my newborn nephew (!) or make cupcakes with my two-year-old niece. Being present in those intimate moments is so much more valuable than hashtagging the moment for all to see.
That being said, I always love it when other people post their real life moments. Social media can be deceptive. It makes us question how we are living our lives. While it can be inspiring in many ways, it can also leave us feeling a bit disappointed when it seems like everyone else is living a perfect little existence. If we are not careful, it creates a new version of "keeping up with the Joneses." Our Friday night was spent reorganizing the basement, cleaning up after a sick kitty, and watching YouTube videos while everyone on Instagram seemed to be hosting the most beautiful dinner party with the most beautiful people in the most beautiful house with the most beautiful place setting. That is not to say that I do not also love those types of posts. I very much do in fact! Who does not want to share their best moments? Social media allows us to curate that best image of ourselves- not just the image we want others to perceive, but what we want to see in ourselves. We choose what we let out and what we keep in. It just begs reminding that a picture or a post tells only one part of one person's story. There is a lot more to be had behind the screen.
In my social media adventures for this site, I aim to keep it authentic by posting things that I actually eat. Of course, I only post a handful of things that I make and consume. Again, these are just snippets of my life- part of a much, much larger whole. Do all of these dishes look exactly like I serve them up in my kitchen when it is time to eat? Not really. Or at least not always. A little effort certainly goes into styling my dishes, but that part is fun for me. If I were to photograph my dishes as they usually appear on my dinner plate, with poor lighting, all in a heap, I do not think I would inspire anyone to get in the kitchen and eat more plants. And that after all, is my goal. Just like makeup can enhance a woman's natural beauty, a little styling and fantastic lighting can bring out the beauty of these whole foods while still keeping it real.
This brings me to this Roasted Cauliflower Salad. I made this several weeks ago, and it is a beauty. It is also really scrumptious and perfect as the weather just starts to warm. It hits all of those notes of earthy and sweet, herbaceous and bright. If you cannot find pomegranate seeds for that little bit of sweet tang, feel free to substitute golden raisins or currants. You will miss the crunch, but the walnuts will keep you digging in for more. You could certainly toss this with some cooked grains or pasta for a make ahead lunch, toss it in a hummus-filled pita for a satisfying sandwich, or just stand over the bowl and grab it by the forkful as you figure out what you are cooking next.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad
1 medium head cauliflower, leaves removed and thinly sliced and broken into small florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 15 ounce can chickpeas (or 1 1/2 cups cooked)
1 large handful cilantro leaves, roughly chopped
1 large handful Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1/2 pomegranate, seeds removed (white pith removed) (see note*)
3 tablespoons Simple Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe below)
salt and pepper, to taste
Roast cauliflower. Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit. Line baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper. Toss cauliflower with oil and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Spread in a single layer as best you can. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until golden brown, tossing once while cooking. When done, allow to cool for 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients, except dressing. Add warm cauliflower to bowl and toss with dressing and all of the other ingredients. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes 4-6 servings.
*To remove seeds from a pomegranate, first slice pomegranate in half across its equator. Fill a large wide bowl about 1/4 of the way with water. Holding one pomegranate half above the bowl with the seeds facing the water, whack the back of the pomegranate with a wooden spoon. The seeds will splash into the water and the white part will float to the surface. Discard the bitter pith and drain the seeds to be used in the salad or for something else.
Simple Lemon Vinaigrette
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice or juice of 2 lemons
finely grated zest of 1/4 lemon
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
3/4 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Add all ingredients to a jar and shake. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Makes about ½ cup dressing and lasts about 1 week in the refrigerator.