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I love most vegetables, and my favorite way to eat almost any type of vegetable is roasted.  For a long time however, I steered clear of cauliflower.   Cauliflower is like broccoli’s wimpy younger brother.  It’s one of the reasons that I will never buy a store-bought vegetable trays.  It’s colorless and kind of boring, and it doesn’t even have the fun little buds that broccoli has.

Roasted cauliflower?  I should have known it would be awesome.  Roasted cauliflower is a whole different ballgame.  It’s tender, flavorful, and anything but boring.  Add eggplant and garlic, and you’ve got a winning combo.

(I made this just for dinner for myself, not expecting to take pictures.  When I changed my mind I idn’t notice that things were strangely blurry until afterwards… sorry about that!)

This salad came together as a bit of an accident.  While I was at work last week, I was trying to figure out what I could make for dinner with what was already in my house.  The options were a baked pasta dish that I’ve been wanting to make for a while (but which I didn’t want to take the effort to put together), or something with the head of cauliflower that I bought while they were on sale.  Add in a bag of spinach and an eggplant, and I was off to the races.  This made a great meal, but it would also be a great side salad.

There are lots of recipes out there for cauliflower and eggplant, but they are almost always Indian in nature, flavored with curry.  This may be controversial, but I don’t love curries.  I have to be in just the right mood, and even then it’s usually chicken curry that I want.  So I decided to just roast the vegetables the same way that I usually roast cauliflower alone (with garlic), but stop short of getting really crispy, so that they would contrast nicely with the spinach.This doesn’t take much by way of ingredients.  Half a head of cauliflower (will easily feed two people), an eggplant, two or three cloves of garlic (I use a lot, but some might like less), spinach, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon pepper.  If you’d like to add cheese, you could add bleu cheese, feta or goat cheese.  The only dressing it needs is a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Start by washing the eggplant and chopping it up into bite-size pieces.  Set them aside in a large bowl.

Now grab the cauliflower.  Cut off the green leaves at the base, then cut off as much of the thick stem as you can.

Once the stem is out, you can start to cut off the florets.  If you’re going to use the entire head of cauliflower, then just go to town.  Otherwise gently cut out the florets that you need.

Slice the florets into thick slivers, then slice each of those into thin pieces (maybe 3 or 4 per sliver).  Place into the bowl with the eggplant.

Mince the garlic cloves, or use a garlic press.  Toss the veggies with the garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, and lemon pepper.  Spread onto a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, and roast in the oven until they start to turn golden, roughly 30 minutes.  Toss halfway through.  Feel free to roast them longer if you want crispier veggies.

When they’re done, pull out the veggies.  Plate over a bed of fresh baby spinach.

Add cheese if desired.  If you really want to go big, add some cooked crumbled turkey bacon or toasted nuts (walnuts, almonds, etc.).  Drizzle the salad with a little bit of balsamic vinegar and enjoy!

Roasted Cauliflower and Eggplant Salad

Serves 2 (main) to 4 (side dish)

1/2 head cauliflower, sliced into small slivers
1 eggplant, chopped into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons olive oil (enough to cover veggies)
2-3 cloves garlic (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
salt and pepper

Baby spinach
Crumbled cheese- bleu cheese, feta or goat cheese
Balsamic vinegar

1.  Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Mince the garlic finely, or use a garlic press.

2.  In a large bowl, toss the cauliflower and eggplant with the olive oil, garlic, lemon pepper, and some salt and pepper to taste.  Don’t skimp on the salt.

3.  Spread the vegetables on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil.  Roast in the oven until they are golden on both sides, roughly 30 minutes.  Toss them halfway through.

4.  Plate the vegetables on a bed of spinach while still warm.  Top with cheese and drizzle with Balsamic vinegar.  Enjoy!

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