Café Pinson is one of Paris’ most delicious lunch spots for vegetable lovers. Co-founded by Agathe Audouze and driven by her interest in naturopathy and personal history with food intolerances, it focuses on fresh, seasonal, and healthful foods, with no dairy ingredients and (mostly) no gluten, whole grains and unrefined sweeteners, and low-temperature cooking to preserve nutrients.
It doesn’t hurt that the interior design was created by Dorothée Meilichzon, who excels at putting together inviting and cozy spaces, with mismatched vintage-style furniture and whimsical details that seem right out of a Pinterest board.
So hungry are Parisians for that kind of food that it took about a week for the crowds to descend upon Café Pinson.
So hungry are Parisians for that kind of food in a non-granola environment that it took about a week for the crowds to descend upon the original location in the upper Marais. This success led to the opening of a second Café Pinson, this one in the super hot Faubourg Poissonnière neighborhood, where a new exciting spot sprout up every minute and a half.
I was recently invited to have lunch there with Agathe Audouze herself to sample some of the menu offerings, and among them I was particularly taken with the romanesco salad. I’m sure you’ve seen that fractal cabbage, light-green to yellow in hue, and handled in cooking much like cauliflower. Here, it was served cold, dressed in a vegan mayonnaise that was tahini-based, as Agathe explained, and topped with a happy sprinkle of brown flax seeds.
It was tangy and rich, a most appealing way of eating Brassicaceae. I noted the idea in my head and promptly reproduced it, not with romanesco but with cauliflower, which I had on hand. It was just as lovely in a home context as at the café, and I am adding it to my cauliflower repertoire, along with my other love-it-to-death favorite, the Cauliflower à la Mary Celeste.
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Do you make cauliflower salads? What’s your favorite way of dressing them? And have you ever tried romanesco?
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- 680 g (1 1/2 pounds) cauliflower or romanesco florets from one large or two small heads, separated into bite-size florets (about 8 cups)
- 2 tablespoons brown flax seeds
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 60 ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
- Steam the cauliflower florets for 10 minutes, until just tender: you don't want them crunchy, but not mushy either. Let cool to room temperature.
- Grind the flax seeds coarsely: you don't want them reduced to a powder, but you want to break the outer lining so they're digestible.
- Prepare the vegan sesame mayonnaise: in a salad bowl, whisk together the tahini, salt, lemon juice, cumin, and 1 tablespoon water. Pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking all the while, to get a creamy, emulsified "mayonnaise".
- Fold the cauliflower into the dressing. Serve immediately, with a sprinkle of flax seeds, or refrigerate until ready to serve.