The idea for this meal came to me as I walked through the food court of a local shopping mall and saw mountains of Tabouleh in a Middle Eastern fast-food joint. It was a few days after I made this Thomas Keller Lemon-Thyme-Garlic Roast Chicken. Tabouleh, in case you’ve never heard or had the pleasure of tasting it, is a salad typically made with curly parsley, onion, cucumber, tomato and bulgur wheat, all of which is tossed in a dressing of olive oil and lemon juice. It makes a great side dish or can be added to salads. It turns out that tabouleh also makes a kick-ass, Middle Eastern version of a salsa verde. Of course, I would have never gotten the idea to pair it with the roast chicken if it weren’t for my recent visit to Montecito in downtown Toronto, where co-owner Jonathan Waxman’s signature JW Chicken is served with his famed salsa verde. The problem, however, is that I had to figure out a paleo-friendly way to get around the bulgur wheat that Tabouleh recipes call for. I felt extremely smart when I realized grated cauliflower would make a great substitute. I’m talking guy wearing glasses with pocket protector smart. Albert Einstein smart. Isaac Newton smart. Mario Batali smart. That is until 24:24 minutes ago when I ran a quick Google search for “Cauliflower Tabouleh” and saw a bunch of other extremely smart people. I may not be the first to the Tabouleh finish line but it seems I’m in very good company with people like Gwyneth Paltrow paving the way.
Making the Stuff:
If you’re making a big batch of Tabouleh, I suggest using a food processor for the cauliflower and parsley and cutting the other veggies by hand. Otherwise, practice your knife skills and cut everything by hand. Texture is important here. Blitz it for too long in the food processor and you’ll end up with a paste rather than a salad.
The Tahini recipe is standard and couldn’t be simpler. It goes great overtop of the chicken and tabouleh. It can be made in about 60 seconds by hand or using a food processor.
Lemon-Thyme-Garlic Roast Chicken:
Rather than having you fumble through different pages on this blog, I’ll repost the recipe below. I know, I’m cool like that.
I had a head of cauliflower in the fridge that was just about to start turning brown. It was a use-or-lose situation and since the oven was already on I figured I could just throw it in a separate skillet and cook it alongside the chicken. So I cut the cauliflower in half, removed the stem, laid it flat-side down in a steel skillet, rubbed it with EVOO, seasoned it with turmeric, cayenne, paprika, salt and pepper and placed a spoonful of ghee overtop each of the halves. After the chicken was cooked (about 50 minutes) I decided to baste the cauliflower in the rendered schmaltz that pooled at the bottom of the skillet I cooked the chicken in. WOWOWOWOWOWOW! It came out way better than expected, which is usually what happens when you add schmaltz to anything. I would entirely recommend using only shmaltz instead of ghee next time, which is an option that I’ve listed in the recipe.
Give all of the above a go and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Serves 2-3 as a side dish.
3-4 cauliflower florets – finely grated by hand or in a food-processed
1 bunch curly leaf parsley (approx. 2.5-3 cups loosely packed) – very finely chopped by hand or in a food-processed
1 tomato – seeded and finely diced
½ English cucumber – seeded and finely diced
¼ red onion – finely diced
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon – zested and juiced
½ tsp Sea salt (or to taste)
1 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
- Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and combine thoroughly.
2 tbsp roasted sesame paste
1 clove garlic – mashed into a paste
pinch of sea salt
3 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup water
- Add all ingredients to food processor and puree on low until it reaches a consistency that can coat the back of a spoon (approx. 30 seconds). If it is too thick, add 1 tbsp of water at a time. If it is too wet, add 1 tbsp sesame paste. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.
Serves 3-4 as a side dish
1 head cauliflower – cut in half and stems removed
2 tsp Turmeric
2 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Sea Salt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 tbsp cold Ghee – substitute 2 tbsp cold Shmaltz if available
- Preheat oven to 425F.
- Place cauliflower halves in an oven-safe skillet. Evenly coat each half with 1 tbsp EVOO – use your hands to rub the oil into all of the nooks and crannies. Season with turmeric, paprika, cayenne pepper and sea salt. Place 1 tbsp ghee on top of each of the halves.
- Set in the oven for 1:15hr – 1:20hr. After about an hour, baste the top of the cauliflower with the ghee (or schmaltz) and oil that has pooled at the bottom of the skillet. Return to oven to finish cooking. The cauliflower is ready when it has turned golden brown and is fork tender. Baste it one more time after removing it from the oven before serving.
Lemon-Garlic-Thyme Roast Chicken
1 Free-range, antibiotic and hormone free chicken (approx. 3 – 3.5 lbs)
Cracked black pepper
8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
½ head of garlic
- Remove chicken from fridge and allow to come to room temperature before cooking.
- Preheat your oven to 425F.
- Rinse chicken under cold water and dry thoroughly with kitchen towel (you want it bone dry).
- Liberally season the inside and outside of the bird with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.
- Stuff the cavity with 1 lemon (cut in half), 6-8 sprigs of fresh thyme, ½ head of garlic (smashed but skin left on).
- Truss the bird so that the legs seal the cavity.
- Place the trussed bird at the bottom of a Dutch oven or oven-safe skillet (cast-iron is perfect for this) and transfer into the preheated oven.
- Cook for 50 minutes without opening the oven door.
- After 50 minutes, insert a meat thermometer into the deepest part of the thigh. The thermometer should read 160F. If the reading is below 160F, place the bird back in the oven and retest every 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven. With the bird still in the Dutch oven or skillet, add 2-4 sprigs of fresh thyme and a few slices of lemon to the rendered chicken juices (Shmaltz!!!). Using a large spoon or turkey baster, continuously baste the bird with the juices for a few minutes. This will impart a great deal of flavour to the entirety of the bird and will allow the residual heat to bring the chicken up to an internal temperature of 165F – the safe temperature to consume poultry.
- Transfer to a cutting board and carve accordingly (I’m a leg man myself!)