Cauliflower and Harissa Salad

Excerpt from Ari’s Top 5 enews

a salad of cauliflower and harissa with basil leaves

A terrific taste of Tunisia to make at home

Local heirloom tomato season is coming to an end for 2022, but cauliflower is still going strong! This simple salad is a wonderful way to feature it in these first weeks of the fall season.

To make the salad, simply steam or poach fresh cauliflower until it’s al dente—soft enough to be fork-tender, but not completely falling apart. Cool and break into bite-sized florets. Lightly salt the cauliflower (or if you poached it, salt the cooking water). Squeeze on a small bit of fresh lemon juice. Then add some yogurt to dress it—I’ve been increasingly enamored of the Jersey cow milk yogurt we have at the Creamery from Bellwether Farms in California. It’s become a staple at our house in recent months. Add a bit of mayonnaise and then a healthy amount of harissa, using more or less depending on your taste.

The harissa here—and throughout the ZCoB—comes from the Mahjoub family in Tunisia. It’s the kind of food that I have fallen in love with, a food that invited me into the history and culture of Tunisia, and into a new twenty-year-plus friendship with Majid Mahjoub. Everything about the way it’s made, and the way it tastes is about dignity. It starts with chiles and tomatoes, all grown organically on the Mahjoub family farm near the Tunisian town of Tebourba. All are sun-dried (which enhances flavor and nutrition), and then blended with the family’s organic extra virgin olive oil and spices into a smooth, savory, spicy, and to my taste totally addictive pepper spread. All of it is made with a deep connection to Tunisian history and culinary culture.

Add some toasted chopped almonds or lightly toasted pine nuts, and mix well. Serve it on leaves of local arugula or lettuce. Garnish with a little bit of freshly ground cumin or ground caraway seed—the Wild Uzbekistan Black Cumin and the Wild Canadian Caraway Seed we have on hand from our friends at Épices de Cru are both incredibly good.

Still have some tomatoes left over from the summer? Use them up with this Harissa-Roasted Tomatoes recipe.