Winter cauliflower salad

cauliflowersalad3I do not like cauliflower. I don’t like raw cauliflower, I don’t like steamed cauliflower, and I don’t like roasted cauliflower. A couple of years ago, someone told me that they don’t like cauliflower but that they love roasted cauliflower, and I should try it. I did, and I was flooded with both disappointment and disgust. I don’t like not liking various foods–I used to not like blue cheese so I ate a little piece of it every day when I worked at a cheese shop, and now I like it. So although I don’t like cauliflower, seemingly however it is prepared (unless it is doused in cheese), I couldn’t help but give it another go.

I’m not sure what drew me to this recipe, especially since I knew the likelihood of me enjoying it was pretty slim, but I also knew that if I were going to decide to like something that contains cauliflower without cheese as a primary ingredient, it would need to spend some time in a flavorful marinade. The one thing that cauliflower has going for it is its crispness, so perhaps if that could be retained and the bland flavor masked with a pungent mixture, I’d have success and find a way to eat a new vegetable.

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And guess what? It worked. This salad is great– it’s light but packs enough flavor and heat to satisfy in the depths of winter, especially when you’re looking for something tempting that isn’t comfort food. In fact, the salad tastes much richer than it is. The powerful tastes come from olives, olive oil, garlic, chile pepper and lemon, all healthy ingredients. If you’re looking for a break from a green salad or bland vegetables, this winter cauliflower salad is perfect for you.

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Winter cauliflower salad
hardly adapted from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy by Domenica Marchetti via The Splendid Table
makes 6 to 8 servings
four-stars

Note: I don’t have a steamer basket so I made do. If you have one, you can follow the link above for instructions although using it is extremely similar to my method.

 

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed and cut into florets
1 cup chopped olives (whatever type you’d like)
1 tablespoon flat-leafed parsley, chopped
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
¼ of a large red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons (about 8) sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 fresh chile pepper, minced
zest of 1 lemon and juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup gorgonzola, crumbled

1. Fill a medium to large saucepan with 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower to the pan, cover, and steam until just tender, about 6 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.

2, Strain and transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add olives, parsley, garlic, onion, tomatoes and chile pepper; toss to combine.

3. Add lemon zest to the bowl, and sprinkle lemon juice over the salad. Season with salt and gently toss again. Add olive oil and toss to combine.

4. Cover the salad and let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Sprinkle cheese over the salad, and serve.

5. If you’re going to have leftovers, wait and add the cheese to a portion of the salad each time before serving so it doesn’t get soggy.

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