Seasonal Tastes: October 2018 – Quinoa with Cauliflower, Mushrooms, and Goat Cheese

Now that it’s October, it’s safe to say fall is here. And cauliflower is perfect for fall. In NYC right now we’re actually getting perfectttt fall weather. It’s a bit warmer than usual but there’s just the slightest chill in the air in the evenings. It’s the part of the season that makes you want to introduce some new ingredients to your menu (hello roasted veggies) but you’re not ready to dive fully into cold weather things (not so fast, stews). That’s why this recipe is perfect.

I recently rediscovered this recipe for a roasted cauliflower and mushroom quinoa salad. When it came time to cook on Wednesday, however, I couldn’t find it. Well, I’m sure I could have, but I just didn’t feel like hassling. My eating schedule was all thrown off because of Advertising Week. I ate breakfast at 10:30, a snack lunch at 5:30, and it wasn’t til 9:45 that I was ready for supper. At that point I didn’t want to go searching for the recipe on my Pinterest so I tried to just go with the ingredients I remembered (quinoa, cauliflower, mushrooms, balsamic vinegar, thyme, and goat cheese) and tweaking it a bit.

Start by tossing cauliflower florets with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh thyme. Roast for about 25 minutes at 350. While that’s in the oven, quickly toast off some pine nuts (if you haven’t bought ore-toasted ones like i did), set them aside, and then use the same pan to sauté sliced button mushrooms in butter. At the same time, get your quinoa going. In terms of quantities, I used one heaping rice cooker cup of quinoa, one package of pre-sliced mushrooms, and one small head of cauliflower. The rest was just done to taste. Your quinoa will probably be done first so go ahead and toss in your pine nuts. Mushrooms will be up next so add those in. You’ll have just enough time to wash your pan (yay for having a clean kitchen by the time dinner is served!) before the cauliflower finishes up. Once it’s out of the oven add it to the rest of the quinoa mix. Let it cool for a minute before adding in crumbled goat cheese. For this much quinoa I used a full small log (I think about 5 oz). You’ll want to let the quinoa/veggies cool just a bit before adding the cheese so it can retain its crumbles. Drizzle some olive oil, balsamic, salt, and pepper over it all and you’re done.

Overall, my changes were minimal, but I tend to think they’re nice updates:

  • I tossed the balsamic with the cauliflower instead of just using it as a dressing. I think it brings out the depth of flavor.
  • I sautéed the mushrooms instead of roasting them with the cauliflower. I like the texture I could get that way.
  • I added pine nuts. This is a texture play.

For a dish that really incorporates some fall-like ingredients, it managed to feel nice and light. It doesn’t weigh you down like other seasonal dishes. I served it with some sour cream salmon because it’s a tried and true recipe that requires the same zero prep and 25 minute cook time as the cauliflower. That means this entire meal will be on the table (with all dishes washed) in 30 minutes. I may have started cooking late, but this is a full, very satisfying meal that was still ready while there was good tv on.