Ricardo’s take on cauliflower couscous and carrot and cashew dip

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Food personality Ricardo Larrivee puts the spotlight on vegetables with his new cookbook “Vegetables First,” but it is not completely vegetarian.

The Quebec culinary star notes that while vegetables are certainly the star, flavours are occasionally bolstered by beef or chicken stock, and he’s not above throwing in some chopped up bacon to jazz up greens.

Rather than convert lifelong meat-eaters to a plant-based diet, Larrivee _ who more often simply goes by Ricardo _ says he just wants to give the average home cook some ideas on how to incorporate a wider variety of fresh produce into their meal rotation.

Here’s a look at two veggie recipes that he says pair great with meat, or more greens.

CAULIFLOWER COUSCOUS

Servings: 4-6

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 25 minutes

1 cauliflower, cut into florets

1 onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

30 ml (2 tbsp) butter

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground coriander

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cumin

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground turmeric

1 ml (1/4 tsp) ground ginger

1 ml (1/4 tsp) crushed red pepper flakes

250 ml (1 cup) chicken broth

55 g (1/2 cup) sliced almonds, toasted

30 g (1/4 cup) currants

1 can (540 ml/19 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

In a food processor, chop the cauliflower, one-third at a time, until it is the size of large couscous. You’ll have about 1.5 litres/6 cups.

In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, soften the onion and garlic in the butter. Add the spices and cook for one minute, stirring. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broth, almonds, and currants. Bring to a boil. Add the cauliflower and chickpeas. Cover and let simmer for four to five minutes or until the cauliflower is al dente. Add the lemon juice. Adjust the seasoning, if needed.

Delicious with grilled merguez sausage, chicken, or white fish.

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CARROT AND CASHEW DIP

Makes 375 ml (1 1/2 cups)

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

2 carrots, cut into small pieces

1 garlic clove, sliced

2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground turmeric

0.5 ml (1/8 tsp) ground cumin

15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil, plus more for serving

180 ml (3/4 cup) water

30 g (1/4 cup) toasted cashews

60 ml (1/4 cup) tahini

30 ml (2 tbsp) lemon juice

In a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, brown the carrots, garlic, and ground spices in the oil. Add 125 ml (1/2 cup) of the water and continue cooking over medium heat for five minutes or until the carrots are tender and the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper. Let cool.

In a food processor, grind the cashews. Add the tahini, lemon juice, the carrot mixture, and the remaining water. Process until the mixture is smooth and homogeneous. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the processor bowl occasionally. Add more water, if needed. Season to taste.

Serve with crudites or crackers. Add a drizzle of olive oil and pepper, if desired. The dip will keep for one week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

_ Recipes courtesy of “Vegetables First: 120 Vibrant Vegetable-Forward Recipes,” by Ricardo Larrivee, Penguin Random House Canada

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