grilled cauliflower & spinach salad
I hadn’t intended to limit my posts during these renovation weeks to vegetables and salads – wouldn’t you much rather see photos all oozy, fruit syrupy, coconut-sprinkled, chocolate-slathered, honey creamy rich swallows of sweetness that you’d gladly over-consume a day’s worth of calories to sink your face into? Of course you would. And HOW I disappoint – cauliflower, of all things! (So in hopes of making it up to you, may I direct you to a couple kitchens where they’re still putting wildly luscious things on the table that will have you drooling like a toddler cutting teeth? Merci beaucoup, Movita Beaucoup! I NEVER leave your place without a huge smile on my face and dreams of hand-feeding those I love with what you’ve just baked! And Smidge, who NEVER does things by dribs or drabs or “just a smidgens” – but goes ALL out with her exquisite cakes and cake-lets! If you don’t know and love these women already, may I suggest you should?)
Still…you don’t want to forget your vegetables completely do you? And here it is already Wegetable Vednesday!
I don’t know if you knew, but cauliflower ‘s quite the pacifistic vegetable. Mild and meek, ever-open to compromise, never jumping off the fork to assert itself. It’s SO compliant in fact, we can whip it into something very closely resembling mashed potatoes. Though it can be rather bland (flat out dull when boiled) clever humans have discovered various ways to color these pale flowers delicious. Fact is, it’s child’s play since cauliflower virtually never puts up a fight.
Grill it and toss it, while still warm, in a mustard & caper vinaigrette, tumble in colorful spinach and tomatoes, toss fresh dill at it, and you have a scrumptiously hearty, fresh-as-Spring salad. (And though some are loathe to hear it, it’s chockablock full of vitamins too!)
Grilled cauliflower & Spinach Salad with Tomato, Dill & Capers
- 2 Tablespoons capers, drained & coarsely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon French wholegrain mustard
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup (120 ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small cauliflower, divided into florets
- 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 3½ ounces (100 grams) baby spinach leaves
- 25 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- coarse sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds (black or brown) OPTIONAL
- the juice of ½ lemon – at the end
Prepare the dressing: By hand or in a food processor or blender – mix together the capers, mustard, garlic, vinegar and some salt and pepper. Whisk vigorously or run the machine while adding HALF the oil (¼ cup) in a slow trickle. What will result is a thick, creamy dressing. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Set aside.
Place the cauliflower florets into a large pot of boiling salted water. Simmer for a brief 3 minutes. With a colander in the sink, pour the cauliflower pot’s contents into it and then run cold water over top to stop the cooking immediately. Allow cauliflower to remain in the colander to continue drying fully. Once dry, place in a mixing bowl, and toss with the other ¼ cup olive oil and salt and pepper to coat well.
Put a ridged griddle pan over the highest possible heat and leave it for 5 minutes to become very hot. (If you happen to have an outdoor grill going, by all means, go outside!) Grill the cauliflower in several batches to avoid overcrowding, turning from side to side as they begin to char. When nicely marked with grill lines, transfer to a salad bowl. With the cauliflower still hot, add the dressing, dill, spinach, tomatoes and mustard seeds if using. (NOTE: You may decide that the entire amount of dressing isn’t required for your tastes, and depending on the quantity of cauliflower used. My suggestion would be not to add all at once. You can always add more.) Stir together. Taste for salt. Just before serving, squirt the juice of ½ lemon over all and re-toss. (Putting the lemon on too soon will bleach the spinach leaves.)
Serve warm or at room temperature, checking seasoning one final time.
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This recipe adapted from Ottolenghi in Ottolenghi, The Cookbook