Roasted Cauliflower with Dates and Olives

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2015 was a banner year for the Mediterranean diet with a number of published studies linking it with important health benefits. These included lower risks for heart disease, breast cancer and depression, and improved cognitive function. And those don’t include the study published in December 2014 linking the Mediterranean diet to a longer life.

As far as I’m concerned, these results are terrific news. I’m a huge fan of the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes minimally processed foods primarily from plant sources; seafood; copious amounts of olive oil; some dairy, poultry, and beef; and red wine. Equally important, it values the social aspect of food, such as sharing meals and conversation with others while eating (hello, family dinner!).

All of which leads me to the recipe I’m sharing with you today. It’s a simple tapas recipe whose country of origin is Spain, one of the countries whose cuisines contribute to the Mediterranean diet. I first tried the dish at Jaleo, the Washington D.C. tapas institution, and, as is my custom when I experience something simple and delicious in a restaurant, I wanted to replicate it at home. Fortunately, I found a recipe on Jaleo’s Facebook page that I was able to use as a starting point.

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Cauliflower and Radicchio Salad

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When was the last time you had a transformative experience eating cauliflower?  No, I’m not talking about cauliflower in the form of a few milky white flowerets mounded next to some cherry tomatoes and a pile of carrot sticks on a crudité platter offered as the first course at a dinner party or potluck.  That’s cauliflower in its most humdrum state, more crunch than flavor, serving primarily as a delivery device for whatever obligatory dipping sauce has been provided.

No, I’m talking about cauliflower that has been prepared in such a way that upon your first experience of it your thoughts are filled with the pleasant recognition that a vegetable that only a few moments before seemed bland and boring is in fact brimming with culinary possibilities.

I can tell you’re skeptical.  So, please, let me explain.

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Winter Pasta Salad

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Pasta salad is one of those dishes that are supposed to be infinitely flexible.  It’s just cooked pasta, vegetables, and dressing.  What could be easier?  Well, nothing … which is precisely the problem.  Pasta salads can be so easy, they’re uninspiring.

That’s the dilemma I faced when I sat down to come up with the second in my series of recipes for easily made breakfast, lunch, snack, and dinner dishes that can be substituted for store-bought items typically loaded with added sugar.  I knew I wanted to do a home-made pasta salad, but finding one that was both tempting and convenient seemed difficult.

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