When you can’t go to Nopi, you bring Nopi to you
Nopi is Ottolenghi’s Soho (London)-based restaurant that I aspire to go to (once we can travel again, of course). Until then, I have to satisfy my wanderlust by cooking from the Nopi cookbook here in Noe Valley! The book itself is gorgeous, with vibrant pictures and gold-foil lined pages. It is pretty enough to be a coffee table book, but of course, all my cookbooks are in my kitchen within easy reach (and smeared with food from past cooking ventures).
I’ve expressed my love for Ottolenghi cookbooks in general, but I haven’t cooked very much from the Nopi cookbook because the recipes are a way more complex. They are recipes created for a restaurant, not a home cook. Generally, I prefer less effort for big outcomes but with all this time on my hands at home, what better time than now to tackle a complicated and slightly fussy recipe?
The Spicy Latke likes to add a little drama to a recipe, but here I wanted to pull back because the recipe is already plenty dramatic. So, the challenge boiled down to: How can I retain all the amazing contrasting textures and flavors, but skip another trip to the grocery store?
My version keeps most of the steps, but pares down the recipe to items that you might have on hand*. I cut the recipe in half, and stuck to one method of preparation for the cauliflower. The steps I decide to keep are worth it – salty and creamy cheese spread, tangy and plump raisins, crunchy sunflower seeds, crispy fried capers, and a simple mustard dressing to bring it all together.
This is a dish that makes a regular Tuesday night feel a little more special, without too much effort.
*If you don’t have the exact same ingredients, here are some alternatives:
- Instead of goat cheese, use ricotta, yogurt, or sour cream
- Instead of raisins, use dried currents or cherries
- Instead of red wine vinegar, use white wine, champagne or apple cider vinegar
- Instead of sunflower seeds, use pine nuts or almonds
Serves 2-3 as a side.
1 medium cauliflower, trimmed and broken up into florets
1 oz capers, rinsed, dried and divided into ½ oz portions
3 oz goat cheese
1 oz raisins
Scant 1 oz sunflower seeds
4 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ cup vegetable oil (for frying capers)
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast cauliflower for 30 minutes, tossing at the half-way point. The cauliflower should be toasty and brown, so leave in the oven for longer if needed.
In a small pan, add 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, ¼ cup of water and the raisins. Boil the liquid and then set it to simmer for 5-6 minutes, until the raisins have swelled and the liquid has evaporated. Set aside.
Finely chop ½ oz of capers, and add to goat cheese with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix to combine.
Wipe out the small pan used for the raisins, and add ¼ cup of vegetable oil. Wait until the oil is hot and shimmering, and add the remaining ½ oz of capers. The capers take only about a minute to fry, take them out using a slotted spoon once they start to flower open.
In a small bowl, add mustard, 1 tablespoon of red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, salt and pepper (to taste) and whisk until emulsified.
To serve: On a large dinner plate or small serving platter, evenly spread the goat cheese and caper mixture.
Add the roasted cauliflower on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle the raisins, capers, and sunflower seeds on top of the cauliflower. Then pour the mustard dressing on top of everything and serve.
Pair with garlic sausages, roast chicken or a green salad.