Imagine Little Roasted Florets Sprinkled with Red Seeds Against A Backdrop of Bright Green Sprouts. This Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts and Pomegranate Is A Recipe Bursting with Contrasting Flavours and Textures.
Why Do I Love Chestnuts?
Chestnuts were a snack we had all the time when we were growing up. We always bought our chestnuts from the same local street vendor in the market in our neighbourhood.
The heat in Malaysia is stifling throughout the year with very little respite. Chestnuts are roasted in a mammoth wok and stirred through very hot coal. Every time I approached the vendor, I was completely engulfed in a bubble of heat and I always wondered how they could stand in front of that wok for hours on end.
The roasted chestnuts were ordered by weight. The vendor would scoop out the chestnuts and place it in a colander to separate the coal from the chestnuts. He would then weigh the chestnuts on an old school scale. Like most things in Southeast Asia back then, everything was wrapped up in newspaper. The vendor would make a cone shape out of the newspaper and put the chestnuts in it. It was always too hot and too fiddly to eat whilst walking so we had to wait till we got home. Total torture with the smells wafting throughout the car!
How to Peel Chestnuts?
Peeling chestnuts back then was hard work so my sister and I never bothered. Well, truth be told, mum spoilt us, and we took full advantage of it. She would sit on the couch and very patiently, peeled the hard-outer shell, which she pinched between her fingers. Then she would painstaking peel off the inner husk.
One of my fondest memories was when she would literally toss the chestnuts into the air and between my father, my sister and I, we would bulldoze each other out of the way in an attempt to catch it!
The best time to peel chestnuts is when they are still hot as the inner husk separates from flesh. Chestnuts can be either roasted or boiled but before you do so, cut a small X on the tip. With the heat, the X on the outer shell will open up slightly giving you a small window to get your fingers in there to pry it open.
How to Prepare Cauliflower Florets?
Cutting the cauliflower into small florets make for pretty salad ingredients.
Snap off the green leaves at the base of the cauliflower. Then cut off the big stem as close as you can get to the florets.
Then with a smaller knife, I dig in and cut the cauliflower off from the smaller stem in its natural cluster. Sometimes the florets are too big. Place them upside down and cut smaller florets off from the stem again.
How to De-Seed A Pomegranate?
I use the whacking method! It is definitely messier, but I find it is faster and de-seeds with minimal wastage without bruising them.
Cut the pomegranate in half. Stretch the fruit a little to help loosen the seeds from the shell then place it flat on the palm of your hands over a bowl. I prefer to do this in the sink to reduce the mess.
With a wooden spoon, whack the back of the pomegranate. The seeds will start to fall through your fingers into the bowl. The white parts of the pomegranate will inevitably fall in too so be sure to remove them when you’re done.
Why I Love Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts and Pomegranate
These 3 ingredients make up some of my favourite things to eat and is a healthy cauliflower recipe. I couldn’t wait to jump at the opportunity of creating a salad that would incorporate all of them.
The crunchy seeds of the pomegranate against the powdery texture of the chestnuts are so contrasting. Whilst the bitterness of the snow pea sprouts is offset by the sweetness of the honey in the dressing.
It is also a visually pretty salad. Pomegranate just makes everything look so good!
How to Make Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts and Pomegranate
How to Roast Chestnuts
Let’s start this process with the ingredient that takes the longest to prepare. The chestnuts. Cut an X on the top of the chestnuts to create a small opening. Place in the oven at 200°C or 400°F for 25 minutes. Once they are done, remove the baking tray and allow it to cool but don’t let it go cold. The outer shell and inner husk are easier to peel off when they are warm. Chop them into small pieces when they are peeled.
Prepare the Pomegranates and Onions
Whilst the chestnuts are roasting, de-seed the pomegranate as above.
Slice the onion and caramelise in a pan. The onion will add to the sweetness of the salad and help to offset the bitterness of the snow pea sprouts.
How to Roast Cauliflower
Prepare the cauliflower florets as above, place them in a mixing bowl and add some olive oil and season with salt and pepper. After the chestnuts are done, place them in the oven for 10 minutes at 180°C or 350°F. After 10 minutes, remove the baking tray and turn the cauliflower florets so they are evenly roasted. We are looking for those nice brown tips.
Allow all cauliflower, onions and chestnuts to cool down and then mix all these ingredients together. Be gentle as you don’t want the cauliflower to disintegrate.
How to Make the Yoghurt Salad Dressing
Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cumin seeds as much as you can. You don’t want the whole seeds in the dressing. Pounding the seeds releases the pungent flavours better than just adding cumin powder.
Add the seeds to the yoghurt and honey and mix well.
How to Assemble the Salad
This roasted cauliflower salad requires layering rather than placing everything in a bowl and mixing everything into one large clumpy, creamy salad.
Select a shallow platter rather than a bowl.
Place half the snow pea sprouts at the base of the platter. Put half the mixed salad ingredients on the top. Pour half the yoghurt on the top or spoon them out in dollops. Then place the rest of the snow pea sprouts on the top. Then add the remaining salad ingredients and then the dressing.
Do not mix it all and serve as is.
If you prefer you can always serve the dressing on the side and guests can help themselves. I would make extra dressing though as guests seem to always scoop out much more than they need.
This salad is a mouthful of contrasting textures and flavours. Sweet vs bitter and powdery vs crunchy. Eaten together with that creamy yoghurt dressing is simply yum!
More Salad Recipes with Cheese:
Pomegranate Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts
- Using a knife, make an X on the top of each chestnut to create a small opening. Place in the oven on a sheet pan and roast at 200°C or 400°F for 25 minutes. Remove the sheet pan from the oven and let the chestnuts cool down. Peel the chestnuts while they are still warm. Chop the chestnuts into small pieces.
- De-seed the pomegranate and set aside.
- Slice the onion and caramelise on a fry pan.
- Remove the green leaves from the cauliflower. Cut off the big stem. Using a smaller knife, cut the cauliflower at the smaller stems to get the florets. If the florets are too big, cut them further at the stem.
- In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix the florets with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place the cauliflower on a sheet pan lined with baking paper in the oven at 180°C or 350°F for 10 mins. Remove and turn the cauliflower to get an even distribution and bake for another 10 minutes.
- Using a mortar and pestle, pound the cumin seeds and break it up as much as possible.
- In a small mixing bowl, add the Greek yoghurt, cumin seeds and honey. Mix well.
- Before assembling, allow the cauliflower, onions and chestnuts to cool down.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the roasted cauliflower, pomegranates, caramelised onions, and chestnuts. Mix gently so the cauliflower doesn’t break into smaller pieces.
- In your serving platter, place 1 handful of snow pea sprouts. Scoop half the cumin and honey dressing and place on top of the salad.
- Add the rest of the snow pea sprouts on top of the salad. Put the remaining salad ingredients on top and pour the rest of the yoghurt dressing on top.
- Alternatively, you leave the dressing aside for your guests to help themselves. If you wish to do this, make an additional half or full serve of dressing as guests tend to take more than they need.
- You can substitute the snow pea sprouts with watercress if they are easier to find.
- You can definitely use cumin powder for the dressing if it's easier for you or if you don’t have a mortar and pestle.
You’re loving this Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts and Pomegranate recipe and now you need ideas for a main course that will pair well with it? Check out these delicious main course recipes for some inspiration.