Wednesday, April 23, 2008

cauliflower, bean and feta salad

cauliflower, kidney bean and feta salad

As Cathy so eloquently navigates on her site, cooking in New York City isn’t exactly a given/mandatory act, or certainly not the way it would be in a place that doesn’t have umpteen restaurant and take-out options in a four block radius. It very much a choice, something one opts to do out of interest in choosing what goes into their mouths in a place that makes it really easy to forgo this choice. Honestly, it’s not uncommon to look at an apartment in New York City and exclaim “Awesome! They just renovated the kitchen!” only to learn that new cabinets and appliances were put in two tenants ago, but neither got to turning on the oven. (Ahem.)

roasted flowerets

Despite running this site, enjoying cooking and being naturally curious about new recipes and trying ingredient combinations, it has never been cooking-or-bust for me. If I’m tired or uninspired, I’ve got no issue ordering a savory crepe from down the street or even a grilled cheese sandwich from one of the many diners around. I welcome the lack of dishes at the end of the evening (even while I look guiltily at all of the waste created from take-out containers.) It’s because of this that on the occasion that I make something I’m not head-over-heels in love with, it’s that much more insult to injury. I could have eaten anything in the world for dinner, but instead, I’m pushing this salad around my plate after lugging groceries up the stairs and nearly an hour of prep.

rosemary olive oil

Which is not, of course, to say that this salad is not good. In fact, it’s quite good and well, I might even make it again. But someone it didn’t hit the spot for me last week, and I’ve been procrastinating about sharing it with you since. All of this is silly, because it was really just a few degrees off from what I wanted. The lemon level in the recipe I adapted it from was caustically high, and it did need a little more crunch than I gave it–remembering the last cauliflower dish so fondly, I’m thinking some toasted walnuts would be wonderful.

The problem is that this was one of three things I’ve made in the past week that just didn’t do it for me–and certainly didn’t seem to warrant the dishes they created. So, while I take a day to reconsider what I really want to cook for dinner next time, I’m thinking this is a perfect time to throw in another Q&A. We’ve got volumes I, II and III in the archives, but the last one was nearly 6 months ago and surely you have some burning questions you want me to answer. Oh, you want me to start? Yes, these are my real freckles. Scary, huh?

roasted cauliflower salad

One year ago: Black Bean Confetti Salad

Cauliflower, Kidney Bean and Feta Salad
Adapted very loosely from Bon Appetit, January 2007

Makes 6 servings

1/3 cup + 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 medium head of cauliflower, trimmed, cut into small florets (about 3 cups)
1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, drained
2 large heads of Belgian endive, trimmed, halved lengthwise, then thinly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces)
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons olive oil and season well with salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until edges are dark and caramelized, about 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice.

While cauliflower is roasting, combine remaining 1/3 cup olive oil and rosemary in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat just until fragrant, about 1 minute. Cool.

Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, lemon peel, salt, and pepper in small bowl. Combine roasted, still warm cauliflower, beans, endive, chives, parsley, walnuts and rosemary oil in medium bowl; toss. Mix in cheese. Add lemon juice mixture and toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.


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