Member Highlight: Nicole Santos | Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa Recipe
“The thing that sets Urban Acres apart from other supermarkets is the unique sense of community you feel when you walk through the doors. Where else can you go that will put a bag of plums on hold for you, or discuss various uses of Cajeta, or chit chat about vegan recipes? I was completely wooed by the wonderful people that work there. And I believe in what they’re doing.” – Nicole Santos
It’s time to get to know some of your fellow Urban Acres members! We’ll be frequently highlighting members in this special section.
Today, we’d like to introduce you to Nicole Santos of the blog Oh My Golly!
Nicole, tell us what inspired you to become a part of Urban Acres.
I heard about Urban Acres from a friend who lived in Oak Cliff. After driving by the storefront a few times she did some research, decided to join and shared her positive experiences with me. I joined Urban Acres because I was interested in buying local, organic and seasonal produce while supporting local Texas farmers and sustainable agriculture. However, the thing that sets Urban Acres apart from other supermarkets is the unique sense of community you feel when you walk through the doors. Where else can you go that will put a bag of plums on hold for you, or discuss various uses of Cajeta, or chit chat about vegan recipes? I was completely wooed by the wonderful people that work there. And I believe in what they’re doing.
When and why did you decide to start eating real, wholesome food?
If I were to pinpoint a moment when I decided I really needed to make a change, it was after seeing the documentary Food, Inc. It was like seeing a reality horror film. My husband and I came home from seeing that and stayed up until 1 a.m. researching where we would turn to buy our produce and meat. You can’t erase what you’ve learned. It really makes you angry and desperate to make a change.
The reason we decided to start eating real, wholesome food also ties into seeing Food, Inc. It’s like the saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” What we didn’t know was hurting us, and once we became educated, we couldn’t go on cooking and eating the way we had been for so long.
What is your favorite part about the “co-op style” produce?
Laziness! I love that I no longer have to do the bulk of my grocery shopping. I don’t have to worry about picking the good stuff out, because you guys do it all for me. My second favorite part is the element of surprise. The bins are never boring and usually include something I’ve never cooked before. I love the challenge of finding something new to create.
What is your favorite fruit? Favorite veggie? Why?
My favorite fruit is the strawberry. Strawberries and cream. Strawberries and balsamic. Strawberries on spinach with chopped celery and fennel. It’s the best! I don’t have a favorite veggie. The veggie in this week’s bin that I’m most excited to eat is the bunch of radishes. I like that you can eat every part of the bunch. I plan to make radish and butter sandwiches with the radishes, and a raspberry balsamic salad with red onions and the greens.
Do you have any produce tips for our other members?
Don’t freak out. If you see something you’ve never eaten or cooked with before, look at it as a fun challenge. And I don’t mean you need to go on the internet and find some crazy elaborate recipe. Keep it simple. For example I recently got a head of cabbage. Now I know that doesn’t sound too crazy, but I never buy cabbage. So I made a tangy slaw with half of it, and sautéed the other half with olive oil and turmeric (an idea I got from an Urban Acres employee!).
Please share your current favorite “real food recipe” with us.
Here’s a vegan recipe I recently made using a cauliflower and zucchini from my Urban Acres produce share. I especially like this recipe because the cauliflower is the superstar of the dish. It was also the first time I used quinoa, which I now love…
Cauliflower Steak with Quinoa
From The Wall Street Journal
View Nicole’s adaptation of the recipe and more photos on her site.
2 heads cauliflower*
1 cup quinoa, well-rinsed
1 granny smith apple (peeled and diced)**
2 shallots, sliced
1 clove garlic, thinly sliced
1 leek, white part only, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chives, chopped
1 teaspoon thyme
Make the quinoa: Sweat 1 cup quinoa in a tablespoon of olive oil, add 2 cups vegetable stock and simmer over low heat until thick. About 20 minutes. Cover and set aside.
Make the cauliflower: Cut 1-inch steaks from the largest part of the cauliflower heads. In a pan, roast the steaks in olive oil and season with fresh ground sea salt and pepper until golden brown. Wrap in tin foil and keep in oven at 200 degrees until ready to serve.
Make the cauliflower sauce: Cut the remaining cauliflower florets and blanch in salted water until tender (about 3-4 minutes in boiling water). Drain and spread florets on baking sheet and bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes, until florets have dried. In the pan used to roast cauliflower steaks, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, shallots, garlic, leek, apple. Add cauliflower florets and season with salt and pepper. Pureé until smooth. The leftover you can use in a stock for soup.
Assemble the dish:
In the pan with the quinoa, drizzle olive oil and add 1/2-1 cup cauliflower sauce and 1/2 cup vegetable stock, thyme and chives. Fold together until smooth. On each plate, lay down bed of quinoa, top with cauliflower steak. I also sautéed a diced zucchini and placed around quinoa.
*Nicole’s note: I only used 1 head cauliflower because I was making this for two people
**Nicole’s note: I forgot to peel the apple before I diced it. It really made no difference at all.