Unusual salad? Yep! But so interesting with crunch, zing, salt and spice, it'll soon become a favourite.
Tahini Dressing 1 cup plain unsweetened yoghurt 1 clove garlic Flaky sea salt ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste) 2 Tbsp chopped mint Pomegranate molasses for drizzling Cauliflower & Mandarin Salad 1 medium sized cauliflower Salt 2 fresh bay leaves Oil ½ cup (70g) blanched almonds Seasoned salt (mix together ½ tsp flaky sea salt, ¼ tsp smoked paprika, few pinches ground cinnamon) 2 mandarins 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil Finely grated zest 1 lemon 1 Tbsp lemon juice Flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper to taste Mint for garnishing, optional
1 Make the tahini dressing first. Line a sieve with paper towels, set it over a bowl and pour in the yoghurt. Drain for 30 minutes. Peel garlic and crush with ¼ teaspoon of sea salt. Beat tahini in a bowl until smooth, then add garlic (scrape it all up from the board) and mix in drained yoghurt and mint.
2 Trim cauliflower but keep it whole. Plunge it core down into a large saucepan of boiling, salted water, throw in the bay leaves, and cook for 1 minute. Have ready a bowl filled with icy water. Drain cauliflower and plunge it into the icy water. As soon as the cauliflower feels cool, remove it, shake off excess water, then leave it to drain core down for 15 minutes.
3 Heat a small pan with a slick of oil over medium heat and add the almonds. Cook gently, stirring often, especially once cooking gets underway, until they are golden. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and sprinkle with the seasoned salt. Toss to coat.
4 Peel mandarins, removing as much of the white pith as you can. Cut segments in half.
5 In a large bowl whisk together extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest and juice, ¾ teaspoon of flaky sea salt and black pepper. Shave cauliflower into small florets and pieces, discarding any thick raw stems. Add cauliflower to dressing and toss well. Add mandarins.
6 Smear the tahini dressing over a large platter (or two plates) with a small knife. Drizzle with pomegranate molasses. Arrange a mound of the cauliflower and mandarin salad on top, then scatter with almonds, adding all the seasoned salt. If liked, garnish with mint leaves.
There’s no getting around it – cauliflower pongs once it is cooked. Throwing a few fresh bay leaves in the water certainly helps to sweeten the smell (try it!), and an open window helps, too.
Tahini is a thick, oily paste made from toasted sesame seeds. I’ve used unhulled tahini paste in this recipe, which is more nutritious than hulled tahini, but it’s a bit stronger in flavour, and darker in colour. If it is your first time with tahini, go for the hulled version and see how you like it. There is usually a big puddle of oil on top of a jar of tahini paste that needs stirring in with a long-handled spoon before taking out what you need.