Flower Power Ceviche!
By Dennis Linden
Here’s a very tasty vegetarian version of an ancient South American fish dish from the kitchen of Melissa’s Associate Adriana Cadenas. While ceviche can be traced to Peruvian recipes dating back some two-thousand years, Adriana’s recipe stars the recently discovered “it” ingredient that is being touted by food blogs and publications as replacing kale in 2015 -- cauliflower. In fact, by using cauliflower as the primary component of her ceviche, instead of the traditional pieces of fresh fish, Adriana demonstrates the culinary versatility of this vegetable that has definitely contributed greatly to this new-found popularity. To understand this trend, try mashing, frying, roasting, grilling or even making a crispy pizza crust out of kale like one can do with cauliflower!
Also, the relatively neutral taste of cauliflower makes it a blank culinary canvas that readily takes on the flavors and personality of the seasonings as well as the other ingredients of the dish during the cooking process. In Adriana’s recipe there is a very short list of seven fresh produce items; each having a distinctive standalone flavor in its own right. In fact, it should be noted that every ingredient in Adriana’s ceviche was harvested from a field; nothing came out of a jar, can or package of any kind. The cauliflower in her dish acts as a sort of culinary negotiator between all these competing tastes; taking a little from each and delivering the resulting combination in perfect balance on a salty chip that adds a nice crunch to each bite.
This coming June, Adriana will be celebrating her 18th year as a member of the Melissa’s staff. “I am Warehouse Office Manager,” she said, adding “I also assist the Human Resources Department for the warehouse employees.” She also admitted to being a music junkie, who likes just any musical genre that is foot-tapping. In fact, Adriana is interested in all forms of art. At the moment that interest is focused around honing her skills in nature photography. She is planning a birthday trip for herself to Yosemite to try her hand at capturing the park’s magnificent scenery on film.
For Adriana, being a member of Melissa’s family of dedicated employees is a family affair, literally, as her sister Maira also works with her in Melissa’s Shipping Department. Speaking of family, Adriana “blames” her brother, Ralph, as the inspiration for her ceviche recipe. “Ralph is vegan,” she explained. “I was running out of dishes that we could enjoy together. We are both avid four-sport fans throughout the year, so this was especially true when it came to snacks that I could serve as we root for the Dodgers, Clippers, GB Packers, and LA Kings, depending on the season. So I started playing around with making-over some of my existing repertoire of dishes to suit my brother’s dietary discipline. I guess I am my brother’s keeper…at least in the kitchen anyway!”
1 Small to Medium Size Cauliflower, jacket leaves trimmed
1 Medium Size Red Onion, small diced
6 ounces Lime Juice (5-6 large Limes)
4 Medium Tomatoes, small diced
1 Jalapeño, small diced
1 Serrano, small diced
1 Carrot, shredded
1 Small bunch of Cilantro, chopped small
Salt, to taste
Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and bring to a rolling boil.
Turn off flame, drop in entire Cauliflower, head down, soak covered for 5 min. Remove cauliflower with tongs, drain and cool. Cauliflower should still be quite firm, only slightly softened up.
When cool, cut only the flowers off the head, taking as little stem as possible.
Small dice cauliflower tops and then put them into a large mixing bowl.
Add the onion and lime juice, mix thoroughly, and then let stand until the onion begins to cook (turn translucent), about 5 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, carrot, both peppers and cilantro plus a pinch of salt to taste.
Mix ingredients thoroughly, let rest about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld. Transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy. Most flavorful when served at room temperature, along with some chips and a cold cerveza!