Lemon Mustard Cauliflower Pasta

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I love mustard.

And ketchup and mayo and hot sauce and all condiments, but today is all about mustard, the illustrious, yellow devil.

Coarse grain mustard has been a revelation to me. I have always seen recipes call for coarse grain mustard but just used Dijon or a spicy mustard in its place. Now, no mustard is bad or inherently inferior to another (I don’t like to judge mustard harshly, equality for all mustard), but now that I have properly followed directions and finally bought coarse grain mustard, I am in love.  It really packs a lot more great flavor.

I do have a word of caution for all you coarse ground mustard newbies to be careful.   This stuff can be potent.  I spread a big hunk of mustard on a sandwich, and halfway through, my nose was running and my eyes were tearing up. This time my tears did not result from wonderment of my own culinary skill but the power of coarse mustard. Treat it with respect- less can be more.

The only tears that should be shed in the kitchen are tears of joy. (Or a cook’s tears of frustration on a bad day.) This pasta may cause some serious tears of happiness. Mix al dente pasta with roasted cauliflower and a butter, sweet, and tangy lemon mustard sauce. Easy and delicious. Top with fresh herbs and you are ready to go.

I also have started buying fresh herbs instead of just dried: So. Much. Better.

Why don’t I just follow directions from the beginning?

LEMON MUSTARD CAULIFLOWER PASTA
Adapted from Bon Appetit via Heat Oven to 350

INGREDIENTS

8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
1 small head cauliflower, chopped
Salt
2 butter
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 tablespoon honey
4-5 teaspoons coarse ground mustard
Fresh parsley, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions one minute short of al dente. Drain and set aside.

Place cauliflower in a single layer on a baking sheet. Season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes, until soft.

Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add pasta and cauliflower to pan. Mix in butter, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, and mustard. Bring to a boil and mix together. Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the sauce is mostly absorbed. Serve immediately, topped with fresh parsley.

Serves 3-4.

*You can also just cook the cauliflower without any pasta to serve this as a side dish.

Buffalo Cauliflower Couscous Salad

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Quinoa, we need to talk.

It’s not you, it’s me.  I really need to focus on me right now.  We’ll still be friends, right?

Well, I think quinoa is okay, right?  They can go rebound with a jar of marinara sauce.

As you are reading this, I am probably sitting in car, making the long trek back home to reality.  Boo.  Since I wrote out a summer to-do list a few weeks ago, I can now cross a few off my list.  I celebrated Half-Christmas with some friends (what- you enjoy waiting 12 months to celebrate holidays?), I have been reading like a madwoman (I literally have 8 books sitting on my desk waiting to be read), I have worn a few more dresses, and now I am returning back from a semi-spontaneous road trip (at least spontaneous for me).  I also have taken to liberal parenthesis use but that wasn’t on my list.

My final summer check off is making quinoa.  I have made it twice, and both times were much more successful than my first attempt.  Now, this recipe has no quinoa in it.  I just don’t know if I like quinoa that much.  First, although it tastes better, I am not 100% I am cooking it completely correctly since I have never eaten it before.  Second, it’s just blah- I haven’t tasted the nutttiness or chewiness I heard so much about.

So basically, I need someone to make me an amazing quinoa dish.  Feeding it to me spoonful by spoonful is completely optional.

Until then, I will be sticking with grains I know how to cook and know I love.  This couscous salad takes all the classic buffalo wing toppings and puts it in a nice combined dish.  Now, I eat semi-vegetarian (AKA am too lazy and/or cheap to get meat most of the time), so I make buffalo cauliflower instead of chicken.  And it was wonderful.  But for people who actually have meat on hand, chicken would work wonderfully here.

If anyone makes this dish with quinoa, please send me pictures, so I can methodically compare how your quinoa looks to how mine looked.

Quinoa, you’re too good for me.  I really like you as a person, I am just not in that place in my life yet.

(For the record, this is hard on me too).

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS SALAD
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 cup dried couscous
1 1/2 cup vegetable/chicken broth
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 ounces blue cheese
3 tablespoons buffalo sauce (to taste)
1-2 tablespoons butter
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
Salt and pepper
1 small red onion, sliced
4 carrot, julienned
2-3 avocados, sliced

DIRECTIONS

Bring vegetable/chicken stock to a boil in a small saucepan.  Add couscous.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let sit for 5-7 minutes, until broth is absorbed.  Fluff with a fork.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, whisk together 1/4 cup flour and a 1/4 cup milk.  Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.  Whisk in remaining milk.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened.  Remove from heat and stir in blue cheese, until melted.  Keep warm.

Heat a large skillet over high heat.  Melt butter and add cauliflower (in batched if needed).  Cook until browned on the outside and tender, 3-5 minutes.  Stir in buffalo sauce, red onion, and carrots.  Cook for 2-3 minutes.  Stir in couscous.  Transfer to a plates.  Top salad with blue cheese sauce and avocados.

Serves 4.

Primavera Enchilada Pie

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Do you ever get into a rut?

I feel sometimes like I need some constant form of stimulation, or else I am bored.

I was feeling a little blah this week.  Feeling blah for me equates to a lot of sitting around watching television.  This week meant rewatching all of Dawson’s Creek on Netflix (no shame).  I watched this show off and on when I was a young, bratty preteen, and I have a secret to admit: back then I liked Dawson better than Pacey.

I can only blame this on my love for overly emotional, good boys back then.  I was blinded to the fact of how annoying Dawson was.  Blah, blah, I want to make movies, Joey why don’t you love me, wahhh.   And let’s not get started on little Joey who could never make up her mind  and acted superior to the world.

But I love this show still: sooo dramatic.  My favorite moment is tied between everyone jumping into the pool (with their clothes on, those crazy kids!!) after a long study session or Dawson’s dramatic walk out of the PSATs to show solidarity with Pacey.  Or maybe Dawson’s awful cry face when he tells Joey to go be with Pacey.  Too many great moments to choose from.

I have now watched almost every episode with those four whiny kids from Capeside*, and I gave myself a Cher-snap-out-of-it moment.    It was time to get up off the couch.  Rut time over.

Thank you to those of you who put up with a Dawson’s Creek rant that is about 10 years late.  Now on to the food,  I promise.

One of my first steps for getting out of my rut was making a new dinner with some spring veggies since spring finally seems to be here to stay since there is no snow forecasted in the next ten days.   Take some asparagus  peas, leeks, and any other veggies you love, sauté them, and coat them in a goat cheese sauce.

That would be a good enough, but it doesn’t end there.  Next you put the veggies between two tortillas and bake it.  This way the top tortilla gets crispy and the bottom one is soft.  It is a perfect mix of enchilada and tostada textures.

Here is my resolution: keep making delicious dinners like this and to get out more.

Also, rewatching Dawson’s Creek on Netflix with a completely different them song almost defeats the entire purpose of the show.

*For full disclosure, I do not judge Dawson’s Creek viewers- I too love it, just for what it is: melodramatic teens.  And also, this rewatching was over a few weeks.

PRIMAVERA ENCHILADA PIE
From Cinnamon Freud

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon of butter, divided
1/4 cup sliced leeks
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 1/2 cup frozen peas
3/4 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 once goat cheese
8 corn tortillas

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 425°F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter and leeks.  Season with salt and pepper, and cook until tender, 5-7 minutes.  Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in asparagus  peas, and remaining 1/2 tablespoon butter.  Cook until tender, 4-6 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Stir in milk.  Heat until simmering and whisk in flour.  Cook, stirring occasionally  until thickened, about 3-5 minutes.  Stir in goat cheese until melted.

Place four tortillas on a greased baking sheet.  Divide filling between the tortillas.  Top with remaining four tortillas.  Top with additional filling if desired.  Bake for 13-17 minutes, until golden brown.

Serves 4.