January 29, 2008
Spicy Roasted Cauliflower with Italian Imported Tuna
When I decided to lower my carb intake about three months ago, I needed something to fill the void left by the lack of potatoes. I quickly figured out that cauliflower is an incredibly versatile potato substitute. For Thanksgiving I even served it mashed and whipped with roasted garlic, grated pecorino, butter, and a bit of cream. It was so creamy and smooth that my dad actually told me that he "loved the mashed potatoes."
I'd been planning on making a similar mash tonight to serve with some beef stew, but when I got home I was so hungry that I decided to quickly roast them in the oven instead. I washed and chopped them into florets then coated them with olive oil, cracked pepper, coarse sea salt, and some Asian chili oil (for a little kick). I popped them in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes. I would stir them up once about 10 minutes into cooking just to make sure they roast evenly. You'll know they are ready when the cauliflower turns a golden brown with the edges just starting to crisp.
While they roasted, I threw together a simple tuna salad using imported Italian canned tuna (yellowtail packed in olive oil--I refuse to eat anything else), a bit of salt, pepper, some fresh thyme, and a squeeze of fresh blood orange juice drizzled on top. The Italian canned tuna is so flavorful straight from the can that it really doesn't need much else to dress it up. I highly recommend trying it out if you haven't yet. The secret to imported tuna is that its usually packed right on the docks before it has a chance to dry in the sun a bit. This keeps it from getting that "fishy" flavor that we are used to with conventional brands of canned tuna. The yellowtail also has a much lighter flavor and the olive oil makes it taste all the more rich. If you can't find the real imported kind (which is usually at least 4 times as expensive as domestic), I would suggest trying the Genova brand "Tonno." It's manufactured by Chicken of the Sea, but is branded to look Italian (which I find a bit sketchy), but I have to admit that it's pretty good for American tuna and is probably the most widely available--and also not quite as pricey.
If you eat bread, I would suggest getting a good thick piece of crusty whole grain bread or perhaps some ciabatta to soak up the extra oil from the tuna. I admit that this might seem like a bit of an odd dish, but the spicy sweetness of the cauliflower really contrasts well with the salty tuna, and the blood orange adds a nice depth.