Posted by Stephanie Simpson on
Friends, I have a problem. An addiction. A disease.
I call it: hyperbole.
To say that I’m always exaggerating would, of course, be an exaggeration. But only just. Fortunately, my grandiose claims are usually of the variety you’re used to, the sort where soups contain several metric tons of onions and where dried fruits duke it out for world domination: innocuous little things, eliciting from those who know my condition — that is, anyone who interacts with me on a semi-regular basis — an indulgent smile and, quite possibly (and understandably), an invisible eye roll.
But every now and then, I lose myself. I say horrible things. Damaging things. Things like “Salad is the worst”. Things like “I hate salad”.
Luckily for me, when I reach such a low, those around me are more than happy to intervene. So last week, when I made those defamatory statements about innocent salads, I was challenged:
“What about warm salads, made with grainy mustard and green beans?” I was asked.
“What about snazzy slaws, made from crispy carrots and purple beets?” my questioner continued.
And then: “What about salads with cheese?”
So I admit it, I was a Saladist, one who avoids all salads due to a fear of the slimy-lettuce-drowning-in-dressing varieties. But now I see what was there all along: the salads I’ve encountered in recent memory have been happy, meal-worthy things, made with care, lovely produce and, yes, cheese; salads to love. So now I make salads whenever I remember how awesome they can be. It takes time to replace the bad habits with the good, after all.
But yesterday, halfway through making roasted cauliflower with a garlicky, olive vinaigrette, I finally thought of salad! (Good news, for sure, but it means that all of the ingredients for today’s recipe didn’t make it into the ingredients photo. The absence of garlic, which is in the original recipe, I chalk up to a week full of minor head injuries.)
I didn’t deviate much from the recipe I was working from — I merely doubled the vinaigrette so that I could dress both the recommended roasted cauliflower as well as my additions of arugula, creamy goat cheese, and toasted almonds. But the result was a sweet and salty, sour and smooth, warm and crispy salad. I ate it with gusto, refilled my bowl, and danced around my kitchen when I was done. And that, my friends, is a fact.
How to Roast Cauliflower!
Makes enough for 4 as a side
1 large head of cauliflower, washed and broken up in to 1.5-inch florets*
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Place oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Place florets on an ungreased baking sheet with raised edges. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper evenly over florets, and toss florets to coat. Transfer baking sheet to preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes or until florets are golden, tossing florets every 10 minutes to ensure even browning. Remove baking sheet from oven and serve florets hot!
*I find the easiet way to do this is to cut the full head of cauliflower in half, then use your hands or a small knife to carefully remove the woody core from each half-cauliflower. From there, you can separate the half-heads into nicely-shaped 1.5-inch florets using your hands or a small knife, and then get on with the washing.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Kalamata Vinaigrette
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes enough for 4 generous side-sized salads
1 large head of cauliflower, separated into florets and roasted with olive oil, salt and pepper (follow the How-To above!)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped**
A large pinch of salt
4 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice (roughly 1 lemon)
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, finely chopped (I used a combination of kalamatas and spicy green olives)
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp sea salt
4 extra-large handfuls of arugula
Goat cheese and toasted almonds (optional)
1. Roast your cauliflower by following the How-To above!
2. While cauliflower is roasting, prepare vinaigrette: Using a mortar and pestle, smush together chopped garlic and the large pinch of salt until you’ve made a paste.*** In a lidded jar, combine garlic paste, olive oil, lemon juice, olives, pepper and salt. Tightly secure lid and shake until oil and vinegar are no longer visibly separated. Taste and adjust ingredient quantities as you see fit.
3. Once cauliflower has finished roasting, remove it from the oven and transfer it to a medium-sized bowl. Pour half the dressing overtop hot cauliflower and toss to coat. Divide arugula between four bowls and drizzle each serving with a spoonful or two of the remaining dressing. Divide cauliflower between salad bowls and toss to combine. Top each salad with a small handful (2 tbsp or so) of crumbled goat cheese and toasted almonds, if you so desire, and serve!
**I might skip the chopping step next time around, as the little garlic bits tend to fly around when you smush them together with the salt. I think whole cloves should smush up just fine.
***You can also do this by firmly pressing the garlic and salt into a cutting board using the flat side of a knife until the garlic has turned paste-like.