If I'm going away somewhere where I know the food will be undeniably resistible, I let all my rules and guards down and really dive in. In Canada, and North America really, we create a lot of restrictions for ourselves, especially when it comes to food. We have so much available to us, at our fingertips. So much selection, so much curating. I'm always reminded of this when I travel.
It's by no means a bad thing, don't get me wrong. It feels sooo good to put "clean" and healthy food into your body. It feels good to drink smoothies, eat giant salads and whole grain or gluten free baked goods and breads. It's all part of a routine. Truly, we're spoiled when it comes to our diets. We can eat any kind and any culture of food we want whenever we want. However, that's not the case for so many countries and areas of the world. They eat what's available to them, seasonally. They import very little and live off of what they have always lived off of.
In Italy, we literally ate gelato, croissant and pasta everyday for two weeks. When we weren't drinking wine we were shooting back espresso or cooling down with a spritz. It was heavenly. But when I got home I won't lie, I was dying for a smoothie and a wholesome salad.
When I return home, I'm reminded of these rules and quickly resort back to them. But I always carry a new flavour, a new ingredient or a new perspective with me that changes the way I look at and consume food, and for that I am grateful.
So here's a super jammed salad, that I ate for days and relished in post Italy. If you can't find za'atar head to Mid East on Agricola, they have tons of selection including one they make in house!
Roasted Cauliflower with Za’atar & Yogurt Chickpeas
Serves 2 very hungry/4 average hungry
1 head of cauliflower
1 good drizzle of olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 large cucumber, seeded
1 x 400 g /14 oz tin chickpeas (or 200 g cooked)
50 ml / ¼ cup natural yogurt
1 tbsp tahini
1-2 tbsp za’atar spice blend
1 handful parsley
1 handful spinach
seeds from ½ pomegranate or golden raisins
1/2 cup quinoa
Put your quinoa on. I like to add salt and za'atar to the water before boiling , about 1 tbsp, and set aside once cooked. Preheat the oven to 220°C / 450°F. Divide the cauliflower into florets and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and toss until all is combined. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until soft and golden and with slightly crispy edges. I sprinkle with some za'atar after about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the other vegetables. Cut up cucumber and avocado as desired. Rinse the chickpeas thoroughly. Pour them into a bowl and mix with yogurt and tahini until all is mixed.
Remove the cauliflower from the oven and sprinkle generously with za’atar.
Add all salad ingredients to a large bowl and toss carefully to combine. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Make space in the side and add the yogurt chickpeas. Top with pomegranate seeds or raisins and a big sprinkle of za’atar. Enjoy!