Wheatless Wednesday – Roasted Cauliflower & Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Olives


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“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu

Yesterday was a travel day for me (a 3000 mile journey from Maine to California), starting with a three hour drive to Boston Logan, then an almost seven hour flight to SFO into headwinds.  I got home feeling tired but blessed.  No matter how long the day, any flight that lands is a good flight in my book.  I hate flying these days.  It used to be that we only had to worry about the plane breaking mid-flight but now we have much more to worry about every time we get on a plane.  It didn’t help that the ‘Safe Travels” bracelet that my friend, Stephanie, brought me back from Israel was found on the floor, (meaning the threads broke) a few days ago.  I don’t consider myself very superstitious but this kind of freaked me out.  What if it’s an omen? I mean that bracelet has done a good job of keeping the plane in the air for more than a year!  So in desperation true form  I re-tied the strings into a makeshift, albeit awkward, bracelet and put it on my wrist.  I’m now in California so it must have worked, Whew!  So why am I telling you this?  In deciding what to make for Wheatless Wednesday, I took stock of what I had on hand which wasn’t much since I haven’t been home in weeks.  I had done a quick trip to the market for essentials and picked up a small head of cauliflower so I knew that was going to be my feature.  Then I went out to my garden and harvested a few large heirloom tomatoes, a lime, fresh herbs, a couple of red chili peppers and a handful of Sun Gold cherry tomatoes.

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A quick check in my pantry yielded a can of garbanzo beans, so I was set.  I had remembered that Gwyneth Paltrow had a recipe for Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Mustard and Parsley.  I had great luck with Gwyneth’s famous White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup which was delicious so went back to her cookbook. “It’s All Good” to check out the recipe.  Since it’s still summer, barely, (The first day of Fall also known as the Autumnal Equinox is on Tuesday, September 23, 2014, less than two weeks from now.) I decided to swap out the mustard for a dressing made with my fresh herbs and chili peppers along with spices, like cumin and chili powder. First I roasted the cauliflower and garbanzos and let them cool slightly. Then I drizzled them with the slightly spicy dressing and tossed it all with halved cherry tomatoes, olives and fresh parsley.  This is a wonderful, ultra-healthy and satisfying main course, just serve with a side salad.  It also makes a great side dish paired with almost anything.

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In her book, Gwyneth also recommends using the tough outer leaves which are usually removed and discarded.  I usually throw them in my green bin or give them to the chickens next door but decided to take Gwyneth up on her challenge.  As suggested, I sliced and sautéed them in butter and garlic.  What could be bad?  I could probably eat my shoes if they were sautéed in butter and garlic… And the result?  I sprinkled them with sea salt – Delicious!  Gwyneth was right. They taste a lot like bok choy but slightly firmer.  The best part is that you get a second dish, two for the price of one!

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TIP:  I made this dish more summery by  using fresh herbs and spices in the dressing instead of mustard and I also included red chili peppers, cherry tomatoes and olives for a more salady feel.  If you would like to make Gwyneth’s original dish, omit the spices, tomatoes and olives.  For the dressing, add 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper and 1 tablespoon each, Dijon mustard and seeded mustard.

Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpeas with Tomatoes and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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14-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or 2 cups cooked
1 head of cauliflower
Extra virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup olives (any type)
1/4 cup chopped Italian Parsley
3 Tbsn olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lime juice (or more to taste)
1 tsp cumin (or more to taste)
1 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
1 tbsn chopped red chilis (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
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  • Drain chickpeas and let dry, or dry with towels.

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  • Remove the outer leaves from the head of cauliflower, core and cut into bite-sized florets.  Since garbanzos are small, I like to cut the florets pretty small too.

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  •  Toss the chickpeas and cauliflower together in a large roasting pan with 3 Tablespoons of olive oil and a big pinch of salt.  Roast at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes.

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  •  Remove from the heat and let cool, slightly, while you make the dressing.  Whisk together the oil, vinegar and spices. Add salt and pepper to taste.

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  •  Add tomatoes, olives and parsley.  Drizzle with dressing and gently combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Meatless Monday-White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup, Arugula Salad and Dark Chocolate Bark


White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Looking for a great NFL Playoff Game dinner idea? I had the pleasure of trying this lovely soup at a football party last week, compliments of Barbara McCrum. It was really delicious.  I know I went back for seconds! Barbara served the soup with an arugula salad with toasted marcone almonds and crumbled goat cheese tossed in vinaigrette. To top it off, Dawn O’Dell made the most decadent dark chocolate bark with coconut, dried fruit and sea salt.  We were all licking every last bit of chocolate off our fingers, it was that good.   I am off to Cuba this week so will not be in my kitchen, however, I am featuring Barbara and Dawn as my guest chefs today.  Thank you Barbara and Dawn for sharing!

The White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup is vegan, low fat and loaded with nutrients and protein. It is surprisingly creamy even though there is no milk or cream (due to pureeing some of the beans). You can substitute any dark leafy green for the swiss chard.  The chocolate bark is also vegan and using a 70% chocolate makes it super rich in antioxidants and considered a superfood.  The nuts and fruits add good oils plus vitamins and minerals, so this is a yummy dessert you can feel good about eating!

Of course after that fun party and delicious meal, I had to run out and buy the cookbook that both of these recipes came from, “It’s All Good” by Gwyneth Paltrow. This is a great cookbook for those on special diets, like vegan, gluten free or elimination, or even just for people who want to eat well.  It is not vegetarian but features really healthy and fairly simple but delicious recipes.  If we can all look like Gwyneth Paltrow, even better!   I’m sure GMD will be seeing more from this cookbook…

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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2 Tbsn olive oil

2 leeks, thoroughly washed and finely chopped

1 large yellow onion, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 bay leaf

Coarse sea salt

4 cups vegetable stock

14 oz can cannellini or gigante beans

1 bunch swiss chard, leaves roughly chopped and stems discarded

Freshly ground pepper

  • Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Add the leeks, onion, garlic and bay leaf along with a heavy pinch of salt and cook, stirring now and then, until softened but not browned, 10 minutes.
  • Add the vegetable stock and the beans to the pot and turn up the heat.  Once the soup comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until everything has completely softened and the soup is wonderfully fragrant, about 20 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf.
  • Carefully puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender or food processor and return it to the pot.  Add the swiss chard and cook over medium high heat just until they’ve wilted, about 3 minutes.  Season the soup with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve with a fresh tossed salad.
White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

White Bean & Swiss Chard Soup

Dark Chocolate Bark

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
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Chocolate Bark

Dark Chocolate Bark with Coconut, Almonds & Sea Salt

7 oz good quality dark chocolate (like Green & Black’s 70% bars), roughly chopped

2 Tbsn sliced almonds, roasted

2 Tbsn combination dried apricots, cherries and golden raisins, chopped

2 Tbsn unsweetened coconut flakes

1 tsp Maldon sea salt

  • Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Bring a small pot of water to a boil, then lower to a simmer.  Put the chocolate in a glass or stainless steel bowl and set it over the pot of water.  Stir the chocolate until it’s completely melted and immediately pour it onto the prepared pan.
  • Evenly sprinkle the rest of the ingredients over the chocolate.
  • Put the pan in the freezer until the chocolate sets, about 15 minutes.  Break the chocolate into pieces and eat immediately, or store at room temperature in an airtight container if your house is cool or in the refrigerator if its summertime.

Chef’s Tip:  The more you stir or whisk the chocolate, the shinier it gets.  Feel free to use other dried fruits and nuts like cashews, hazelnuts, dried cherries, spicy red chili flakes,