Athena's Creamy Cauliflower Soup W/ Dukkah & Watercress Pesto by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

i wasn't always very keen on cooking.  the truth is, that until i met frank, and he and i started dating, i didn't really enjoy the process of cooking that much.  but as our relationship progressed, the notion of cooking for someone else and pleasing their tummy and tastebuds really appealed to me.   so much so, that while frank and i grew a relationship and fell in love with each other, i simultaneously cultivated a little love affair with cooking as well.  

before we moved in together, we would take turns cooking at our respective apartments.  he would generally "cook" sandwiches, which were seriously good.  and i would plan some sort of intricate dinner like a ricotta gnocchi recipe that i had ripped from the pages of the new york times. but saturday and sunday mornings were reserved for getting up a bit early to make a batch of scones or muffins that i had bookmarked and printed out weeks before.  i would scotch tape the recipes to the my kitchen cabinets where they would become one with my little kitchen - splatters, drips, and all! maybe you would have guessed, but as mine and frank's connection grew stronger so did my love for preparing our meals.

cooking and developing recipes for a living has its considerable perks, but the past year that drive has waned a bit with having a baby.  and i have often felt that love and connection to food disipate. i've talked to some other moms about this, and i know it's not just me.  but that continual tug in two completely different directions of wanting to the best, most present mama, while also striving to be the best at your career has taken its toll. which is why every time a new cookbook shows up on my doorstep i am eternally grateful for the wonderful authors who share their stories, hearts, and kitchens with us every time fall and spring roll around.

so, today i'm cooking from a new book, cook beautiful, by athena colderone of the blog, eyeswoon. the recipes are organized by the seasons of the year, so i flipped right to the fall chapter and gathered a load of east coast autumn inspiration.  i chose to make this creamy cauliflower soup to really welcome fall into my kitchen (although, it's literally 90 degrees in LA as i'm writing this), and give you all some chilly-weather meal inspiration as well.  this cauliflower soup is a wonderfully delicious blank canvas - and you could certainly serve and eat this as is.  but athena paired it beautifully with a pistachio dukkah (a middle eastern spice and nut/seed blend), and a zesty watercress-pistachio pesto.  the dukkah added a flavorful crunch, while the pesto added a perfect bit of brightness to make an unassuming soup really shine.   just like the title, states this book is beautiful in every way.  i could see my younger self being too intimidated to cook from it just from its shear beauty, but i think it really beckons you to cook your most beautiful, push your boundaries a bit by introducing you to new ideas, and different ways of preparing a typical meal.   

big cozy hugs! xo

creamy cauliflower soup w/ dukkah & watercress pesto 

recipe from Cook Beautiful by Athena Calderone

*my notes: athena's recipe calls for heavy cream. if you don't handle dairy well, like me, then you can replace it with 1/4 cup tahini which i added to the blender during step 5.

| serves 4 |

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (about 2 pounds/910 g), cored and cut into bite-size florets
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • kosher salt
  • 2 leeks, white and light green parts only, cut  in half lengthwise and rinsed clean
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces (225 g) yukon gold potatoes (about 3), peeled and quartered
  • 3 cups (720 ml) chicken stock
  • 2/3 cup (185 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced
  • freshly cracked pepper
  • watercress pistachio pesto, for serving
  • dukkah, for serving

watercress pistachio pesto | makes 2 cups

  • 1/3 cup (45 g) unslated pistachios, toasted, plus more for garnish
  • 1 1/2 cups (60 g) packed watercress
  • 3/4 cup (45 g) packed fresh parsely
  • 2/3 cup (165 ml) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup (75 ml) lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • kosher salt

dukkah | makes 3/4 cup

  • 3/4 cup (95 g) unsalted pistachios
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt



  1. preheat oven to 425Β°F (220Β°C)
  2. spread the cauliflower florets on a baking sheet.  drizzle the generously with oil, season with salt, and toss to coat.  roast for 15 minutes, tossing the cauliflower halfway through.  continue to roast until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
  3. while the cauliflower is roasting, chop the leeks crosswise into roughly 1/4-inch (6-mm) slices.  in a medium saucepan, heat the oil and thyme over medium heat and saute the leeks until they are slightly softened, about 2 minutes.  add the garlic and cook until soft and fragrant, about 2 minutes more. 
  4. add the potatoes, stock, cream, 2 cups (480 ml) water, and the roasted cauliflower to the pot.  bring the mixture to a gentle simmer over medium-low heat and cover, cooking until the potatoes are fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.  once the potatoes are tender, remove the thyme stems from the mixture (the leaves should have fallen off during cooking).
  5. transfer the mixture to a blender and cover the hole of the blender top with a towel.  blend until the mixture is very smooth.  stir in the lemon juice and season with 2 teaspoons salt and some pepper.  divide the soup among four bowls and top it with lemon zest, a swirl of the watercress pesto, and a sprinkle of dukkah.


  1. in a food processor, pulse the pistachios, watercress, and parsley until coarsely chopped, about 10 pulses.  add the oil and lemon juice and process until a smooth, loose paste forms, about three 10-second pulses.  transfer the mixture to a bowl, stir in the melon zest, and season with salt.  covered in the refrigerator, with a layer of olive oil on top, the pesto will last 3 to 4 days.


  1. in a small skillet over medium-high heat, toast the pistachios for minutes, until warm.  add the sesame seeds, coriander seeds, and cumin seeds.  continue to toast for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the seeds are fragrant. transfer the mixture to a mini food processor, along with the peppercorns and salt.  pulse until the pistachios are coarsely chopped  the dukkah can be used immediately or stored in an airtight container in a cool place for up to 1 week.

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twice baked sweet potatoes w/ pumpkin seed dukkah by Lindsey | Dolly and Oatmeal

life's been a bit full-force these past few weeks, as i'm sure everyone feels the crazy holiday vibes out there. i'm finding it a bit hard to escape it all, even when i try.  i've been saying yes to a lot of fun projects, running myself a little thin, all with a wacky as heck sleeping schedule as of late.  weekends spent working have been awesome creatively, but i would be lying if i said that i didn't feel like it was taking something away from time with my husband and our pup.  getting consumed and overwhelmed easily is a problem of mine (or at least it can feel that way), so much so that i need someone to shake me out of that.  i love it more than anything when my husband, who is the most even, kind and gentle man, tells me i need to put it all down and relax.  i listen. and then i remember that balance is clutch, and tuning in to the present moment is what can be the difference between a freak out and and cool calm look at the world.  

balance, balance, balance.  to me, something that always need balance is the sweet potato.  as the sweet potato is already quite sweet, i find that the addition of sweet things this time of year is a little over the top for my personal taste.  in an effort to combat that problem, with all the sweetened sweet potato dishes out there, i took a family favorite from years ago and gave it an update.  twice baked potatoes were something my mom and i made each year around the holidays.  we would make tons of them, and subsequently have those stuffed spuds for days and days, after all the holiday craziness was over - a tried and true favorite we're talking.  if you've never had a twice baked potato, it's kind of like eating the creamiest, yummiest mashed potatoes inside a crisp, salty potato skin.  some people like eating just the whipped potato filling (hi, mom), and some love eating the whole shebang (hi, rest of the world!).  i started recreating this dish with sweet potatoes in mind as i've come to really love them - mostly for their nourishing properties, but also because white potatoes don't sit the best.  and since roasting acorn squash the other week with za'atar, and loving how the spice blend cut through the sweetness of the squash, i thought incorporating a super punchy dukkah spice blend would be great here with the sweet potato.  fragrant flavors of coriander, fennel, and cumin, some thyme, and my favorite: tangy sumac. i don't know how i didn't put these ingredients together sooner, definitely a power combo!


twice baked sweet potatoes w/ pumpkin seeds dukkah (v + gf)

dukkah is a nut and seed spice blend hailing from egypt.  most times it's made with hazelnuts, on occasion i've seen it with peanuts, and sometimes pumpkin seeds.  since it is pumpkin season, i only thought it was appropriate that they represent here, but feel free to add what ever nut or seed you like.  below i indicate more sumac for garnish.  

| makes 12 halves |

twice baked sweet potatoes

  • 6 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup scallions or green onions, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3/4 cup tofutti (or vegan cream cheese of choice)
  • 2-3 tablespoons hot, unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, extra for greasing and cooking
  • fine salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • parsley, for garnish
  • sumac, for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons pumpkin seed dukkah (recipe below)

pumpkin seed dukkah

  • 1/4 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme (1/2 tablespoon is using dry)
  • 1 teaspoon sumac
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt


  • take cream cheese out to reach room temperature.  preheat oven to 350Β° and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment.  grease and salt skins of potatoes; place on baking sheet and bake for 1 hour.  remove from oven and cool to handle, about 30 minutes.  
  • while potatoes are cooling, cook the onions and garlic.  heat a skillet over medium heat, add enough oil to coat bottom of pan, and saute the scallions/onions until soft, about 3 minutes.  add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. remove from heat and set aside.
  • once potatoes have cooled a bit, cut in half and carefully scoop cooked potato into a bowl, being careful to reserve skins.  using an electric mixer, mash potatoes, cream cheese, 2 tablespoons milk, scallions, garlic, olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.  depending on your preference, add more milk. (2 tablespoons is usually enough to get a creamy consistency.)
  • using a spoon, carefully fill skins with potato mixture.  sprinkle tops with pumpkin seeds dukkah blend and place back in the oven for 20 minutes more.  serve hot with fresh parsley and extra sumac

pumpkin seeds dukkah

  • heat a heavy skillet over high heat - toast pumpkin seeds, until slightly browned and fragrant, 1-2 minutes. repeat with place coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds; remove from pan.  toast sesame seeds, then peppercorns.  allow spices to cool, add the peppercorns to a mortar and pestle, and crush.  add seeds, sumac, salt, and thyme, and grind until mix is crushed.  spice blend can be stored at room temp in an airtight container