There is a genera of people out there who like to substitute cauliflower for certain grains and bread products. Chop cauliflower small enough and pretend its rice or pasta! (it’s not) Or, an even worse travesty, mashing up cauliflower for baking and pretending it’s a pizza crust.
What?! If you have experienced the vast internet expanse that is Pinterest at all or have ever journeyed into the dark land of The Paleo Diet, you have probably been exposed to cauliflower pizza crust. You know what I call cauliflower topped with tomatoes and cheese? A salad. If you’re trying to find ways to cut calories or carbs, I get it. If you want a salad, eat a salad. But if you want pizza, EAT A DANG PIZZA. Please, don’t mess with the perfection that is a toasty, chewy, delicious yeasted crust and pretend that cauliflower can replace it. It can’t. There is no such thing as ‘diet pizza’. Some things are sacred. Stop trying.
I’m done soapboxing. For now.
Speaking of cauliflower, last nights dinner was kind of a salad. Which we really, really needed. I may or may not have eaten half a large supreme pizza on Friday and then 1/2 a bag of raisinets on Saturday. Maybe it was the whole bag. I’m an adult, I get to make these kind of independent decisions. Which means I (hopefully) make the adult decision to eat something with a semblance of nutritional value after spending the weekend eating like an unrestrained 5 year old.
This meal was inspired by Smitten Kitchen’s Turkey Meatballs (from the cookbook) and this instagram post from Sara Forte. And for lack of a more eloquent description, it was just really, really good. The cauliflower is gently tossed with olive oil and salt and pepper and roasted until the larger pieces are buttery in texture with little crunchy, charred bits. There is roasted garlic makes your house smell like heaven, that is if heaven smells like smoky delicious garlic. Walnuts and kale are treated the same, the kale roasted until crunchy with just a hint of salt and the walnuts brown and fragrant. And it’s all done on the same pan! I made the meatballs with almond flour instead of breadcrumbs (its just what I had) and they were the perfect protein addition. Serve all ingredients together in a bowl with a splash of balsamic and a drizzle of hot sauce. Its hearty and filling, the kind of food ensemble that makes you feel really good and happy after eating it (I’m certain that is not how you would feel with a cauliflower pizza). Which I think is my goal for everything that we eat.
Cauliflower and Kale Bowls with Turkey Meatballs
For concerned parties, this recipe is gluten and dairy free. If you want to make it vegan/vegetarian, just leave out the meatballs and bump up the other ingredients, maybe throw in some diced tomatoes or some roasted new potatoes. If gluten isn’t a concern of yours, you can use breadcrumbs instead of almond flour in the meatballs, as the original recipe calls for. This should serve 4 self-controlled adults, but as we’ve discussed before, it just served the two of us.
For the vegetables:
1 head of cauliflower, roughly copped, the biggest pieces should be bite-sized
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
3-4 handful of kale leaves, torn into small-ish pieces
about 1 cup of raw walnut halves, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400. This will be the oven temp for your vegetables and your meatballs. Chop your cauliflower, tear your kale, chop the walnuts and garlic. I used a very large baking sheet and roasted everything at once. Toss your ingredients on the baking sheet with enough olive oil to lightly coat, along with salt and pepper. Try not to mix them together, but let them have their own space. Set aside for now.
For the meatballs (makes about 15 golf-ball sized meatballs):
1 pound ground turkey
2/3 cup almond meal/flour
scant 1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon table salt
1 large egg
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Comine all ingredients in a medium bowl, mashing together until well combined and there are not clumps. Next, roll the meatballs into golf ball-sized rounds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment. I found it helpful to coat my hands in olive oil while I did this. You should have 12-15 meatballs.
Next: timing is important here. Place your vegetables in your preheated oven and set the timer for 7 minutes. In a large, oven proof skillet, heat a generous amount of oil ( I used olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of you pan + a little) and place 4-5 balls in at a time, browning well on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. They’re delicate, handle with care. Transfer your browned meatballs to a plate lined with a paper towel and start a new batch.
At this point, remove your vegetables from the oven. Take the kale off the baking pan onto a plate and toss your cauliflower and walnuts, bake for another 7 minutes, then remove your walnuts, bake for another 7 minutes, then set the cauliflower aside. You can let the cauliflower, kale and walnuts rest together on the same pan after baking.
After you have browned all the meatballs, discard about 2/3 of the remaining oil in your pan. (NOT down the sink, preferably outside. Oil will clog the drain, just FYI) Place all the meatballs in the pan and bake for 10-15 minutes, until done throughout and an internal temperature of 160 degrees is reached.
Toss ingredients into individual serving bowls and enjoy.