I’m going to be occasionally outsourcing these recipes to my friend Gina, who, unlike me, has a fancy degree from the Culinary Institute of America, has worked in fancy kitchens like the Zuni Cafe, and is just generally the master of all things delicious. Gina also has a food blog in which she answers questions from home cooks — think Car Talk, but with more recipes and with less braying laughter. If you’ve got a cooking-related question, send it her way, or just browse her edifying web site.
And in the meantime, dig into Gina’s excellent summer recipe for couscous with cauliflower.
* 2 cups Israeli couscous or pearl pasta
* 1 head cauliflower
* 1/4 teaspoon red chili flake
* 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
* 1 tablespoon capers, chopped
* 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, cut into thin strips
* 1/4 cup pine nuts
* 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
* 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for dressing the cauliflower and couscous
* Salt and pepper to taste
* Cook the couscous in boiling salted water for about 8-10 minutes, until tender. Drain and spread on a cookie sheet or plate to cool. Drizzle with olive oil to prevent sticking.
* Cut the leaves from the cauliflower, quarter the the head, and then cut out the thick core with a paring knife. Slice the florets as thinly as possible, place on a cookie sheet and dress with olive oil, salt and chili flakes. Bake at 425 °F until golden and crispy, about 30 minutes. You may need to stir the cauliflower a few times so it gets color on both sides. Remove from the oven and cool.
* In a large bowl, combine the cauliflower, garlic, capers, mint, pine nuts, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Taste for seasoning. Add the couscous, adjust seasoning and add more vinegar and oil if needed.
Line the cookie sheet with parchment paper to simplify your clean-up.