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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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For printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here

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This recipe adapted from Ottolenghi in Ottolenghi, The Cookbook

32 Comments Post a comment
  1. Looks so good!! You had me at cauliflower! 🙂 I love grilled/roasted cauliflower.

    May 16, 2012
    • Oh me too! I’m glad to have your company! 🙂

      May 16, 2012
  2. darlyn912 #

    yum. Love cauliflower.

    May 16, 2012
  3. That salad looks wonderfully refreshing! Looove roasted cauliflower!

    May 16, 2012
    • It really is a light and satisfying summer salad!

      May 17, 2012
  4. That salad looks so good — affordable, creative and colorful! I think I could get to like cauliflower a bit more than I do. And your writing is so fresh and inviting. Makes me want to sit down with a fork and glass of wine (sorta like Saturday).

    May 16, 2012
    • Yes, Ashley, pull up a chair in a sun-dappled spot and we’ll sip wine and tell stories! This IS a way you’d like cauliflower, I’m just sure of it! 🙂

      May 17, 2012
  5. Oh, spree.. thanks so much! What a nice surprise to read these accolades.. and to be in the same paragraph as Movita.. well, that’s saying lots! Your blog.. does not and would not ever disappoint.ever. I love cauliflower, but not as much as I adore you.. I will have to make this salad soon.. since my cake and cake-let blogging has led to a few waistline adjustments and so my daily meals need to change somewhat before the beach this summer:) How are your kitchen renos going? Have the torn everything out.. have they put anything back in?? Just think of the things you’ll be baking then… xoxoxo Smidge

    May 16, 2012
    • Oh Smidge, you’re most welcome! I’ve wondered how you brilliant cake-bakers keep your pants buttoned! So yes, salads like these are good for bringing things (& scales) back into balance! As for the remodel – the kitchen is still circus-tented, but that may come down tonight! The cabinets are nearly done! Electrical work almost there! Soapstone counters go in next Tuesday (fingers crossed) and appliances after that. We’re over the hump and seeing the finish line! xoxo 🙂

      May 17, 2012
  6. I had grown tired of cauliflower until last Summer when i tried roasting it. Now I eat it as often as any other vegetable. Grilling it and combining it with spinach would make one terrific salad; it sounds wonderful. And, yes, I so agree with your comments regarding Barb’s blog. It’s such a treat to visit there. I’m off now to visit Movita Beaucoup. Thanks for pointing me in that direction, Spree.

    May 16, 2012
    • Don’t you just love it grilled, John? It’s an entirely different vegetable! And this really is a delicious combination that I think you’d like! Our kitchen’s in the home stretch and one of the very first things I’ll be making is a pasta of yours and a salad of ours, and the wine will be flowing freely! I can already taste it!

      May 17, 2012
  7. You know me, I’d much rather see an incredible salad like this – I really would. Though, Movita and Smidge do make some INCREDIBLE cakes. I’m really enjoying the posts, Spree.

    May 17, 2012
    • I AM getting to know that about you Nick. And I’m the same. I marvel over those cakes, and occasionally drool, but I’m not a huge sweet person as a rule. Give me good colorful fruits and vegetables, herbs and spices, and some seafood and I’m happy as a clam! I’m glad you’re enjoying – thanks Nick!

      May 17, 2012
  8. Cauliflower never disappoints and neither do you! I have all the ingredients to hand to make this gorgeous salad, perfect for the heat we´re experiencing!

    May 17, 2012
    • Yes, I’ve been reading of your heatwave Tanya!! You just plopped smack down in the middle of summer didn’t you! This and some beers on ice will cool you! Cannot WAIT to catch up with your blog! Have a great & sundress-y weekend love!

      May 17, 2012
  9. Very nice salad and lovely pictures. I have to say that good salad ideas like that, with the summer under way, are of more use to me than endless cup cakes. I do have a very good recipe for a Chocolate, Prunes d’Agen and rum cake from David Liebovitz’s – http://www.davidlebovitz.com/paris/ – Paris blog which is worth checking out if you haven’t already:)

    May 17, 2012
  10. Val #

    Nice one, Spree! I was not planning to grow cauliflower his year… you have changed my mind!

    May 17, 2012
    • Well, THAT makes me happy Val! I’ll be looking for it!

      May 18, 2012
  11. I’ve never grilled cauliflower, but I put it on salads. This seems like it would bring a whole new level of flavor to a spinach salad! Spinach is my favorite. Thanks for the great idea.

    May 18, 2012
    • Spinach is a favorite of mine too, and I’m thinking (like you) that virtually any spinach salad would be happy to see a bit of grilled cauly!

      May 18, 2012
  12. Couliflower is always good 🙂
    Loved the photos, as usual.
    Hope you are doing great Antoinette 🙂

    May 18, 2012
    • Life is sweet Pablo! Have a great fun weekend! 🙂

      May 18, 2012
  13. This looks great!

    May 18, 2012
  14. What a lovely way to use cauliflower! One of my fave veggies! And I completely agree… Just a Smidgen is one of my fave blogs too!

    May 20, 2012
  15. I think the salad is perfect and the fact you are in the middle of renovation work makes it a work of art! Count me in – just no more renovation work for me though 🙂

    June 7, 2012
    • I spose once a person’s been through this business of renovating, they’re not overly anxious to repeat it. Thanks Claire, always, for your encouragement! 🙂

      June 12, 2012
  16. This salad looks just so incredible Spree! I hope you are hanging in there! 🙂

    June 8, 2012
    • Thanks so much Shira. It’s a tasty little number, for sure. I AM hanging in there (but am reminded of the photo of the poor kitten hanging on for dear life with his front claws! 🙂 )

      June 12, 2012

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