Here I have yet another greenmarket salad that I whipped up whilst staying in New York. It all started when I spotted some gorgeous little Romanesco cauliflowers at a place called Gourmet Fresh on Court Street in Brooklyn’s Carroll Gardens neighbourhood. I didn’t buy them at the time but they played on my mind for over a week.
When I wanted to buy some of them we had already moved from the Brooklyn apartment to a place in Meatpacking, a little too far to go to buy some little green cauliflowers. And do you think I could find anywhere in Manhattan that sold them? No. I stopped into every place that sold fresh produce and none of them had Romanesco cauli’s. Even Whole Foods.
It was when we went back to Brooklyn one day to have lunch that we decided to stop into a place to grab some water that I found them again. Yeeha! Over the next day or so I mulled over what to do with them. That’s when it all came together. Some fresh okra from Union Square Greenmarket and a few prune plums and bulb of black garlic from the fruit shop at Chelsea Market.
I’d seen black garlic in a dish we had at a restaurant, wondering where I could get it. It’s basically a bulb of regular garlic that has been fermented with heat, rendering the clove a deep black colour. The texture is like firm jelly and it tastes a bit like Marmite or rich molasses. Great thing is that you don’t get that nasty garlic stink on your breath afterwards.
Finally for this salad I was determined to add a little exotic spice and crunch, in the form of dukkah. Now this is one spice mix that I struggled to find anywhere in New York. Yes I could have made it, but all I needed was a tablespoon or two. I Googled, I went into gourmet food stores, most people didn’t even know what I was talking about. We even schlepped all the way out to a neighbourhood in Queens called Astoria, as there’s a street that’s lined with Egyptian shops and restaurants. Still no luck.
Za’atar would have to do. It was the closest thing I could find, and in doing so discovered a great little restaurant that we went back to twice. More on that in a future post.
So here you have it. Romanesco cauliflower and okra spiced with za’atar, some sweet black garlic and juicy wedges of pan-seared prune plums. There’s a little honey in there for a very subtle sweetness as well.