Today my sister left me a comment regarding a different post that pointed me to Eric Ripert’s website. I’ve always been a big Ripert fan – his food is beautiful; his “Top Chef” comments are smart; and his suave French accent seems to make everything all the more elegant. To my grateful surprise, Ripert’s site contained some of his easier recipes – he places emphasis on using quality and seasonal ingredients alongside simple methods for great cooking.
Paging through the website, Ripert’s recipe for Cauliflower “Cous Cous” caught my eye. Actually, I wished that I had stumbled upon it much earlier – like – earlier this year at the beginnings of our household’s semi-Paleo-dieting. I’ve made cauliflower rice now many times over, each time trimming off florets and chopping the cauliflower as fine as possible. Considering the crumbliness of cauliflower, it’s a relatively easy task and turns out pretty good each and every time. Ripert’s recipe, however, suggests the use of a food processor for the cauliflower.
But of course, a food processor!! Why had I not thought of that before?
Because I am but a novice most days and Ripert… well, Ripert is a god.
The ability of the food processor to finely cut gets the cauliflower down to the size of actual cous cous grains and results in an unbelievably light, amazingly fluffy cauliflower. My husband actually asked, ” Are we eating rice?”
Ripert’s original recipe for this vegetarian dish calls for market vegetables and features argan oil for the vinaigrette. Though I had intended to do my morning farmer’s market run at the beginning of the week, the recent torrential rain had scared off all the vendors; despite a blocked off street in Calvia, Monday’s market never happened. Thus, in addition to a head of cauliflower, I used what I had on hand – some spinach, organic carrots, and sweet sun dried tomatoes that I had purchased during a previous market trip. I also substituted grape seed oil for the argan.
Cauliflower “Cous Cous” with Mixed Vegetables and a Dijon Vinaigrette (adapted from Eric Ripert’s Cauliflower Cous Cous with Market Vegtables and Argan Oil Vinaigrette)
Ingredients: (serves 4)
- 1 head of cauliflower
- 1 lemon
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 3-4 cups spinach leaves
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 6-7 sun dried tomatoes, julienned
- 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 4 tablespoons champagne or white balsamic vinegar
- 6 tablespoons grape seed oil
- salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Remove florets from cauliflower and pulse in food processor until cauliflower obtains a couscous like size and texture. Place cauliflower into a large saute pan; add enough water to cover just the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium-low to medium heat, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is cooked through and most of the water has evaporated (about 5-7 minutes). Drain, season with lemon juice and olive oil, and set aside.
Next, add 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil to a skillet, heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, turn off the heat and add spinach and sun dried tomatoes. Using tongs, turn the spinach leaves over a few times in the skillet until the leaves are just wilted. The sun dried tomatoes, along for the ride, should also warm up nicely. Once finished, place the spinach and tomatoes in a separate bowl, and add the raw, julienned carrots.
In another bowl, whisk together ingredients for the vinaigrette. Add salt and pepper to taste. Following, add enough vinaigrette to just coat the vegetables once tossed and mixed.
To plate individually – place cauliflower couscous at the center of a dish. Ripert uses a 4-inch ring mold to keep things nice and neat; I packed my cauliflower into a small espresso cup, inverted the cup onto a plate, and then flattened the dome of “couscous” just a tiny bit afterwards. Next, arrange dressed vegetables on top of the cauliflower; drizzle some additional vinaigrette and serve.
For those that are gluten intolerant or reducing processed carb intake, cauliflower can be easily used as a rice substitute and seasoning can be varied. With the use of a food processor, however, the cauliflower becomes completely transformed and almost deliciously unrecognizable… merci, Eric!