Chermoula is a traditional Moroccan marinade made with hefty amounts of cilantro, lemon and garlic that packs a big flavour punch. While this dressing is traditionally used as a marinade for meat and fish, we decided to make it the flavour base for a zippy cauliflower salad in an effort to dress up a vegetable that can be bland and boring.
We focused first on the cooking method of the starring vegetable. Roasting was the best choice to add deep flavour to the cauliflower and balance the bright chermoula. To keep the cauliflower from overbrowning before the interior was cooked, we started it covered and let it steam until barely tender.
Then we removed the foil, added sliced onion, and returned the pan to the oven to let both the onion and the cauliflower caramelize. Adding the onion to the pan once the cauliflower was uncovered ensured that they would finish cooking at the same time.
Finally, to highlight the natural sweetness of the cooked vegetables, we added shredded carrot and raisins, two traditional North African ingredients. Use the large holes of a box grater to shred the carrot.
CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH CHERMOULA AND CARROTS
Start to finish: 35 minutes
Salad:1 head cauliflower (2 pounds), cored and cut into 2-inch florets
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 cup shredded carrot
1/2 cup raisins
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons sliced toasted almonds
Chermoula:3/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the salad: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 475 F. Toss cauliflower with oil and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread on parchment paper-lined rimmed baking sheet, cover tightly with aluminum foil, and roast until softened, 5 to 7 minutes.
Remove foil and scatter onion on sheet. Roast until vegetables are tender, cauliflower is deep golden, and onion slices are charred at edges, 10 to 15 minutes, stirring halfway through roasting. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
For the chermoula: Process all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down sides of bowl as needed; transfer to large bowl. Add cauliflower-onion mixture, carrot, and raisins and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with cilantro and almonds, and serve warm or at room temperature.