Wednesday, November 5, 2008

cauliflower salad with green olives and capers

cauliflower salad

We had an election returns nail-biting and wine-drinking gathering last night (I refused to call it a party until given good reason to) and so, well, to say I’m a bit slow today might be a bit of an understatement. That said, even as I scrubbed grimy, chocolaty fingersmears off the sides of champagne flutes this morning with a raging morning-after headache, I never regret a good party.

cauliflower

Nothing worse than coming to a party around dinnertime that doesn’t actually provide dinner. But, since I didn’t want to have a dinner party, but the kind where you could come and go as your schedule allowed, hot food was out. Instead, we settled on cheese and breads, olives and salads, like this one.

Now, I love cauliflower. I always have. I like it in pasta, I like it in gratins (coming soon!), I like this dead-easy silky cauliflower soup and I like it curries and salads.

celery hearts and leavesmincing yolk with garlic and saltolive oilsherry vinegar

But I never expect cauliflower to be the kind of thing that people get excited over. It’s no great uniter. I admit it: I figured there would be a good amount leftover; I figured I’d at least have enough for lunch today. No such luck! Next time, I’m not making this salad. It’s too good, and too popular. Consider that a warning.

One year ago: Simplest Apple Tart

Cauliflower Salad with Green Olives and Capers
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

The original recipe calls for escarole or watercress, but I actually kind of like this better without the lettuce leaves. It keeps better for hours, as awesome for advance preparation (I made it the day before) as it is for staggered dinner times.

1 small firm head cauliflower or broccoflower, about 12 ounces
1 hard-cooked egg
Sherry vinaigrette (below)
2 scallions, including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced
1 cup diced celery heart with leaves
1 small green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and chopped
12 pimiento-stuffed Spanish green olives, halved
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1/2 cup parsley leaves

Slice off very thin slices of cauliflower, working your way around the head. Quarter then thinly slice the cauliflower. Be sure to include the stalks, too, peeled and thinly sliced.

Smash the hard-cooked egg yolk with the garlic and salt when you make the vinaigrette. Keep the dressing a little on the tart side.

Dice the egg white and toss it with the vegetables, olives, capers, and parsley. Add the vinaigrette (below) and toss again.

Sherry Vinaigrette

1 or 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
salt and freshly milled pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or aged red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Pound the garlic with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a mortar until it breaks down into a puree. Combine the garlic, vinegar, and mustard in a small bowl, then whisk in the oil and season with pepper. Taste and correct the balance.


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