A salad with cauliflower, toasted seeds and sumac

November 12, 2011

Cauliflower and Sumac salad

A while ago I vowed I’d put a stop to my cookbook habit. I have too many, way too many. A lot come from charity shops where I find you can pick up rare and quite off the beaten track stuff. But there are the new editions I see and find very hard to resist. At the moment  The Family Meal: Home Cooking with Ferran Adria from the legendary Catalan restaurant El Bulli and Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg Every Day! are on my wish list. I know that Adria’s might fall into the more aspirational end of my cooking (ie much thought about but not actually done) while the River Cottage book will be  a more workaday book – lots of ideas, some to be followed exactly while most will be used for inspiration, a starting point for a new take on an old favourite. This week’s recipe is one of those – A raw cauliflower salad with sumac. I saw it in the Guardian a while back and have kept  the combo on the back  burner in my head ever since. If you’re an Ottolenghi fan you’ll have heard of sumac (he’s the reason it’s stocked in supermarkets in the UK now) but if you’re not, you probably won’t have come across it much.

Sumac is a berry dried and crushed to produce a tart lemony spice that is used in Middle Eastern cooking. It’s a lovely deep red or purple colour and looks great sprinkled on things like salads, hummous and chicken dishes. You’ll find it in Middle Eastern shops and good delis.

Hugh’s recipe was for cauliflower florets tossed with lots of toasted seeds dressed with rapeseed oil and lots of lemon juice. I found his version way too lemony so toned that down a bit for mine. I also added lamb’s lettuce which has a lovely nuttiness that works really well with the seeds and cauliflower. I’ve eaten this straight up as a quick lunch but also had it as part of a mezze style feast with things like Spanish omelette, roasted tomatoes, baked feta cheese and hummous and it’s a fantastic addition. The lemony dressing seems to wake everything else up while the toasted seeds bring a gorgeous smokiness to the table. Well worth a go.

A salad with cauliflower, toasted seeds and sumac

You’ll need:

500gr cauliflower broken up into small bitesize florets

5  tablespoons pumpkin seeds

5 tablespoons sesame seeds

A small handful of parsley roughly chopped

2 decent handfuls lamb’s lettuce washed well and dried

For the dressing:

3 tablespoons rapeseed oil

The juice of 1 large lemon

Salt and pepper

A pinch sugar

1/2 teaspoon sumac plus a little more for garnishing

Make the dressing by whisking the oil and lemon juice with the sumac and a little salt and pepper together then set aside. Heat a pan over a medium heat and toast the pumpkin seeds until they start to change colour. Take the pumpkin seeds off the pan and set aside. Put the sesame seeds on the pan and toast until they start to pop then take them off. To put the salad together,  toss the seeds with the cauliflower, parsley and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Serve on a bed of lamb’s lettuce with a sprinkling of sumac.

Tracking things down

As I said, you should be able to get sumac in delis and Middle Eastern shops but if you can’t find it The spicery website is a brilliant source for excellent quality spices

Irish rapeseed oil is one of the success stories of local food in recent years and you can have yours delivered with your veggies. A bottle costs €8

We also have pumpkin seeds and they cost €3.80 per 500gr.

Have a great weekend,



One Response to “A salad with cauliflower, toasted seeds and sumac”

  1. Nicola Says:

    cauliflower and sumac is a new one on me – very interesting!

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