Roasted Cau­li­flower & Hazelnut Salad

Roasted Cau­li­flower & Hazelnut SaladI’m So Fancy.
Last week was the Fancy Food Show at Moscone Center in San Francisco. It’s a long day, and I usually end up with a stomach ache by the end. At no other time is it appropriate, let alone encouraged, to try the Salmon Jerky one minute, and wash it down with a coffee soda the next. (By the way, not a fan of the coffee soda.) Add the endless array of kale products and…you get my drift.

Despite the wacky mélange of fine foods, it’s a lot of fun. Plus there are the foods I never pass up because chances are I won’t get to taste them anytime soon. Legitimate Iberico Ham from Spain? 50 year old? (Yes. You read that right) Balsamic Vinegar? Real French Cheese? I’m talking the gooey stinky stuff that will change your life. Then there’s the Wagyu Beef! (O.M.G! The Wagyu Beef!)

The real point of this gastric free-for-all is to learn what is new and trendy, and what we will see on the market shelves in the coming year. That said, here are my takeaways from this year’s Fancy Food Show:

1. Power to the Veggies
Kale is still king, but it now has competition in the form of broccoli, cauliflower and sweet potatoes among other vitamin-packed vegetables. Everywhere I looked there was a different snack item proclaiming it’s particular health benefit. And Chickpeas! They’re everywhere.

2. Caramel is Taking Over
There will always be plenty of candy at the show. That’s just the nature of the beast. In years past chocolate, in any form, dominated. This year, I was surprised to see that while there was plenty of chocolate, there were caramels in every form and flavor including some infused with a variety of hot and trendy spices. (It’s all about the turmeric, y’all.)

3. There’s Something About Mary
Mixology is still the rage, and walking down the aisles there were plenty of options to liven up your cocktail party. Most interesting was how many booths were either offering you a bloody mary or at the very least inviting you to try their bloody mary mix. Others were pairing bloody marys with the beef jerky they were actually there to sell. (Which is a whole other craziness…Jerky everywhere.) Of course, the bloody mary could be another manifestation of the power veggie movement that happens to involve Vodka. I am okay with that.

4. Here for the Pate
Many vendors and attendees were thrilled about the ban on fois gras being struck down by the courts, and they showed it by handing fois gras out to everyone. I was happy to be right in the middle of it. Watch the shelves for some really great pates in the coming months as vendors ramp up their offerings.

5. Doing Things Right
One thing that was blatantly obvious this year is the number of vendors who are very concerned with making sure that if they are going to make something, they make it the way it should be made…almost to the point of obsession. These producers aren’t making products just because they can. They are making them because they really care about producing food for people that is the purest form of the product. For example, Italian pestos that are created in the same manner that it has been made for hundreds of years. Bottled lemon juice that literally tastes like you bit into a lemon because they take the time to add lemon oil to a specially constructed bottle. All throughout the show, there were vendors like this who were passionate about what they produce. I was inspired.

I have to say that this year was the first time in a while that I walked away from the Fancy Food show excited. It was not the same old stuff, only re-packaged. We found a number of products that we are excited about, so be on the lookout for new things in the aisles. And, of course, we’ll let you know about them.

In the meantime, jump on the veggie bandwagon and try the recipe below. It’s a great way to get your vitamins and liven up your winter palate.

Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad
Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi

Cauliflower, raw or lightly cooked, is a useful salad ingredient, above all in winter when there isn’t a great variety of fresh vegetables available. It soaks up flavors particularly effectively and benefits from anything sweet and sharp. This Roasted Cauliflower and Hazelnut Salad is inspired by a recipe from a brilliant Australian chef and food writer, Karen Martini.

1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florets (1.5 pounds in total)
5 tbsp olive oil
1 large stick of celery, cut on an angle into 1/4 inch slices (3/4 cup in total)
1/2 cup hazelnuts, with skins
1/8 cup small flat-leaf parsley leaves, picked
1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (from about 1/2 a medium pomegranate)
1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground allspice
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 1/2 tsp maple syrup
salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425º

Mix the cauliflower with 3 tablespoons of the olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and some black pepper. Spread the cauliflower mixture in a roasting pan and roast on the top rack of the oven for 25 to 35 minutes, or until the cauliflower is crisp and has begun to turn golden brown. Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl, and set aside to cool.

Decrease the oven temperature to 325º.

When the oven reaches temperature, spread the hazelnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast for 17 minutes.

Allow the hazelnuts to cool, and coarsely chop. Add the nuts to the cauliflower along with the remaining oil and the remainder of the ingredients. Stir, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve the salad at room temperature.

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