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Seared Cauliflower with Couscous and Almonds

[Photograph: Blake Royer]

When cauliflower hits a hot, oil-slicked skillet and is allowed to caramelize, it develops a wonderful savory, nutty flavor that puts it among my favorite vegetables. Since the first time I realized this, I've never been tempted to steam or boil it again.

What I love about this particular recipe from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian is the toasted and chopped almonds that are thrown in toward the end of cooking and further emphasize these nutty flavors. A hit of smoked paprika—a wonderful spice to have in the cabinet—give it depth and color.

Granted, this recipe isn't one of those that make you exclaim with pleasure, amazed at the flavor: It's a straightforward, simple dinner, and a bit monochrome. But it's charming in that way. If I weren't cooking from a cookbook with the word "vegetarian" in the title, I might have been tempted to begin this with bacon or use chicken stock. Still, the shaved manchego cheese is a luxurious touch, and it gives everything a needed salty tang.

About the author: Blake Royer founded The Paupered Chef with Nick Kindelsperger, where he writes about food and occasional travels. After a year in Estonia, he's now living in Chicago.

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