Saturday, October 14, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower Larb

This Sunday at the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market you will find fresh eggs and pastured chicken, beef, pork, and lamb from Fair Valley Farm and Fog Hollow Farm and an abundance of fresh produce from Camas Swale Farm, including: 

incredible pearly white cauliflower (try the larb recipe below)
brussels sprouts (great stir fried)
leafy greens (delicious roasted)
winter squash pumpkins (try a pumpkin gruyere soup

I love cauliflower, but I always cook it the same way, roasted, possibly with onions. I haven't yet succumb to the cauliflower rice craze that caused Draconian rationing measures at Trader Joe's. While I could keep eating roasted cauliflower every evening, I sensed some ennui on the rest of the family. This recipe from Bon Appetit caught my attention as a way to turn roasted cauliflower into something entirely new: toss it with fish sauce and fresh herbs as filling for lettuce cups

This is an unconventional version of the Laotian meat salad called larb or laab. The recipe has quite a few ingredients that require a trip to an Asian market (lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves), but a pared down version with just the fish sauce and fresh herbs is delicious. The one ingredient that makes it larb, rather than roasted cauliflower filling, is the toasted rice powder. You could skip this too, but it's easy to make while the cauliflower is roasting, and after browning and grinding up a 1/4 cup of rice, you'll have enough for multiple batches, which is a good thing because in our family lettuce wraps are always a big hit. 

Roasted Cauliflower Larb 
lightly adapted from Bon Appetit, serves six

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large florets with some stalk attached
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 green Thai chiles, finely chopped (or keep on the side for people to add separately)
1 3-inch piece lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
4 kaffir lime leaves, finely chopped, or use lime zest
¼ cup fish sauce
¼ cup fresh lime juice
¼ cup glutinous (sticky) rice
5 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cup chopped mint
Kosher salt
Sliced Persian cucumber and Bibb lettuce leaves (for serving)

Preheat oven to 450°. Toss cauliflower with oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and well browned, 35–45 minutes. Let cool slightly; chop into pea-size pieces. Transfer to a large bowl. Add chiles (if using), lemongrass, lime leaves or zest, fish sauce, and lime juice; toss well.

Meanwhile, place rice in a medium skillet and set over medium heat. Toast, shaking pan constantly to keep rice moving, until evenly browned, 10–15 minutes. Transfer to a plate; let cool. Grind in spice mill or with a mortar and pestle to a semi-fine powder.

Toss scallions, cilantro, mint, and 2 tsp. toasted rice powder into cauliflower mixture; season with salt. Serve with lettuce, cucumber, reserved chiles, and remaining rice powder to make lettuce cups.

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