cauliflower and brussels salad

Oh boy, so we already know what a pest I can be, right? Well, yesterday I had the honor of running what should have been simple errands and yet each was more aggravating than the last, from the Verizon guy that seriously did not understand what to do with my $100 phone credit, the dress which simply did not exist and a line of ten people keeping me from just asking where it could be found and an Aveda employee, oh just don’t get me started because I have nothing nice to say about their eerie breed of worker ants on 5th Avenue. When I got home, frozen like a cranky popsicle, I eagerly dug into the bag of groceries Alex had picked up for our dinner only to find that the store had only white cauliflower left, and I’d wanted the purple, orange and green! I decided that the recipe was boring and I didn’t want to make it at all if it couldn’t be pretty, and oh my god, could I be more annoying?

I was talked back into cooking with the lure of an attitude-adjusting peanut butter cookie from Billy’s Bakery. Have I told you how awesome they are? I know, everyone has had peanut butter cookies before and they’re fairly basic to make, all bearing the signature fork criss-cross mark on top but these, these are something above-and-beyond. After much analysis, as they are kind enough to frequently leave samples out when I come in to get coffee, I’ve determined that the root of their awesomeness is a mixture of chunky peanut butter, peanut butter chips and a light sprinkling with sugar that superfine, indeed. When I find an excuse besides filling our gullets, I promise to try to make my own Billys-style transcendently good peanut butter cookies to share with those of you scattered far from NYC’s west side.

Such a tease, right, all this talking about cookies? I actually boiled cruciferous vegetables for dinner last night. (Oh boy!) However, they were saved from being pushed over the edge of Boringland by a delicious and unusual caper, lemon, mustard, garlic and marjoram-packed butter sauce. I have to say that though I am a roasting fanatic — I will toss nearly any vegetable with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake it on a sheet at a high temperature for 30 to 60 minutes and call it divine, brussels and cauliflower included — they took remarkably well to a brief, salty boil. I’d file broccoli in this category too, and it’s good to keep in mind when you are hungry, cranky and want dinner quickly ready quickly so you can get to what you really wanted, baked goods.

Seriously, this gave me a flashback to being a kid, when I h-a-t-e-d brussel sprouts more than anything and after threats and tears I’d probably choke down three just so I could get some dessert. (Breyers two-tone ice cream brick, of course.) Now I love those tiny cabbage-heads, but I’m not too grown up to be a sucker for a little sweet bribery. I suspect this is a good thing.

a bed of couscous

Thank you so much for voting for me for the Best Food Blog, Humor Award, and congratulations to all the other winners! What a fantastic group. I’ll do my best to earn my place among them this year. [Try the veal!]

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts Salad with Mustard-Caper Butter
Adapted from Deborah Madison, via The Los Angeles Times, 1/10/07

Servings: 8 (Deb: Wha?)

2 garlic cloves
Sea salt
6 tablespoons butter, softened
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup drained small capers, rinsed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
3 tablespoons chopped marjoram
Black pepper
1 pound Brussels sprouts
1 small head (1/2 pound) white cauliflower
1 small head (1/2 pound) Romanesco (green) cauliflower

1. To make the mustard-caper butter, pound the garlic with a half-teaspoon salt in a mortar until smooth. Stir the garlic into the butter with the mustard, capers, lemon zest and marjoram. Season to taste with pepper. (The butter can be made a day ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

2. Trim the base off the Brussels sprouts, then slice them in half or, if large, into quarters. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.

3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add salt. Add the Brussels sprouts and cook for 3 minutes. Then add the other vegetables and continue to cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain, shake off any excess water, then toss with the mustard-caper butter. Taste for salt, season with pepper and toss again.

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41 comments on cauliflower and brussels salad

  1. Of course, I´m gonna comment on the non-existent cookies :P I´ve just added the bakery to my NYC travel folder in my favorites… which means I´ll be gaining 20 pounds whenever I finally make the trip hahaha

    I tried the World Peace Cookies, I haven´t had time to post about them yet, but they have certainly earned their name, yum!

    Brussel sprouts? blah, sorry, there´s no way I´m converting about that hahaha

  2. I am a veggie roastaholic too!

    Okay, and if you make the peanut butter cookies, and you need the pick-me-up to leap to even a new all time high: dip 1/2 the cookie in melted chocolate until hardened then put the criss cross on top with a squeeze bottle of white chocolate. (Okay, they were my weakness for awhile… with coffee.. can’t help it… the light…)!

    Thanks for the yummy photo; hope your next errand adventure is a pendulum the other direction!!!!

  3. Congratulations on your award! I discovered your site about two months ago and have been reading it religiously ever since–it’s such a good looking blog and your writing is always entertaining. Congrats, again!

  4. Congratulations on the award!!!

    My favorite thing to do with roasted veggies is to toss them with couscous, fresh squeezed lemon juice and parsley (though usually more on the asparagus / onion / tomato side than the cruciferous vegetable side, but now I want to try roasting some of those too!). Also, I had never had a brussel sprout in my life until about three weeks ago…shockingly (only given its reputation) it was delicious. Go veggies!

  5. LyB

    There you go again with the pictures! You make even brussel sprouts look good! I have to get my man to look at these pictures as he will NOT hear of me cooking anything involving brussel sprouts. Poor guy has only the memory of his mom’s stinky, boiled and over cooked brussels so I can tell you it’s a hard job to get him to change his mind.

    Keep up the good work, everything on this site is incredibly inspiring!

  6. I HATE Brussel sprouts too. My parents used to make me eat them when I was a kid and I think I need years of therapy to void out the memories of brussel sprout abuse.
    Recently I ran into a menu that was serving them (Diner in Williamsburg) and I thought, Hey, I’ll give them another shot. Maybe my tastes have changed. They sure changed for cheese (can u imagine that I hated cheese as a kid?). Anyway, the brussel spouts at Diner were so disgusting that I spit them out in my napkin. I immediatly called my parents from the dinner table and asked them what was wrong with them? Forcing this green slime on an innocent kid (ok, maybe not so innocent, but a kid none the less). Mom said it was Dad. He liked them and we had to eat them. YUCK.

  7. Congrats on the award. Well deserved. Marjoram is such a great herb that doesn’t get as much praise as I think it deserves and I love the idea of serving this over couscous. I actually just bought this cookbook but have not yet cooked anything from it, so I’m glad to hear that about this recipe. It looks fantastic. I have made other Deborah Madison recipes though and she’s very reliable. Thanks!

  8. Laura

    I LOVE veggies, all kinds, cooked all ways. (Does that make me crazy?) Beutiful pics of your dinner, as usual. Congrats on the Best Blog win!

  9. Congratulations on the award!

    I learned about your site through the Well Fed Network’s awards and I’m so grateful to them for highlighting such great reads. Your writing and photography are terrific! Congrats again.

  10. I love roasted veggies…especially tomatoes…okay, that’s a fruit. Anywho, you make brussels look yummy. And, again, you cookie tease! Did you have to link the site for the bakery? I drooled over the cupcakes, the icebox cake, the cheese cake, ALL OF IT! PMS+Bakery = Cravings.

    Lastly, CONGRATS (again) cause you deserve it Gorgeous!

  11. Congrats on the award!! It’s funny how you could make veggies sound good for dinner (I’m just getting into the whole veggie thing, more like forcing myself). Can’t wait for some peanutbutter cookie goodness.

  12. Congratulations on the award! You definitely deserved it.

    I didn’t have brussels sprouts until a couple of years ago (my mom hates them with the fire of a thousand suns, apparently, and so never made them) but I love them. I usually do the roasting thing, but may have to try them this way. Now if only I could convince my husband that cauliflower is not evil and will not kill him the instant it touches his tongue. And to think, I used to be the picky eater in our house.

  13. deb

    If you can find the miniature brussels, I find that they’re a good gateway, especially when roasted until crisp and flaky like phyllo on the outside, like little nuts. What’s not to love?

    Though, and really, I should devote a whole other entry to this, what actually turned me into a brussel sprout-liker was when I was in Greece in college, and we went to a mom-and-pop restaurant (they cooked out of their kitchen) and they had brussels that they’d boiled all day in a beefy/tomato stew and they were tremendously overcooked, but their flavor was amazing. I have yet to try anything like them again. Anyone ever have anything like this?

  14. LyB

    I’ve never had the kind of dish you’re talking about but it makes my mouth water just thinking about it! There is though this one recipe I want to try (I saw it on the Food Network a while back, forget the chef’s name…): Roasted Brussel Sprouts with baslamic vinegar, olive oil, herbs and pine nuts. It looked so good, I swear, the brussel sprouts looked like candy! I think it might be a great recipe for someone who’s had brussels before but hadn’t liked them, as the vinegar and herbs probably taste stronger than the brussel sprouts themselves.

  15. Yvo

    Ooh! I grew up thinking brussel sprouts were something else. Someone told me I’d like them because I like cabbage. I tried them recently for the very first time and no, I do not like them, or they were poorly cooked (which is highly likely).

    As for your experience in Greece, I’ve just booked tickets last weekend to Greece (for March) and now this bombing thing has everyone freaked out. Ugh. In any case, any clue at all where the restaurant was? =D

  16. deb

    Brussels tend to go very well with dijon, too. Luisa has a recipe I am itching to try over here:
    I think slivering them up and sauteeing them like the vegetable they are is another easy way to convert people. I made this recipe ( last year and it was easy and a little different.

    Yvo – Corfu. And I was 21 and would never be able to find the place again. My professor was from the island so he knew all these little secret local places. Ah, pre-blog. Now I would have written down everything!

  17. LyB

    Thanks for the great ideas Deb, I think I might sneak out and get some brussel sprouts to cook this weekend! By the way, I saw Ina Garten once make cabbage sliced thin and sauteed with butter (it looked really easy and yummy), but you probably already knew that… Have a great weekend!

  18. Merry

    Congrats on the award! I usually just lurk but I come by every day. I voted for you for the Humor Award, too so I’m glad to see that you won.

    Keep up the great work!

  19. I just made this tonight, with a pork loin, and it was fantastic! I didn’t have the two varieties of cauliflower, so just used one large head of the plain old white kind. But that caper butter was fabulous, and the whole thing melded really nicely. I’m looking forward to having this for lunch tomorrow. Wonder if it’s gonna make me, um, gaseous.

  20. Lilly

    yum yum yum, just browsing through (while waiting for my light wheat bread to proof) and this looks delicious! I LOVE brussels, and am pretty sure the boyfriend’s getting tired of making me batches and batches of his cream+almond brussel sprouts, so this is being emailed to him asap. cheers Deb!

  21. Abby

    I made about a 3/5 recipe of this last night. (I’m just cooking for my fiancé and I, so most recipes get scaled down.) He was worried that the acidic flavors in the butter would overwhelm the veggies, and I find boiled veg rather boring, so I roasted them instead at 375º for about 40 minutes and they were amazing! Like Sarah above, I substituted thyme for marjoram. I also chopped the capers just a bit so they would stick to the veg better. I had a huge pile of them with dinner last night, and just finished the leftovers with my lunch. Deb, I LOVE your vegetable recipes!

  22. Tamara

    I just made this for the second week in a row – I LOVED it. And I will say about this that it gets better the longer it sits – I was still eating the leftovers for lunch almost a week later and it was still delightful, with the brightness of the lemon and the punch of the caper still resonant. I’m always on the lookout for more veggie dishes and this was really, really great – definitely a keeper for me. Thank you!

  23. I am eager to see your version of Billy’s peanut butter cookie. Did you ever make it? I also would be so happy if you could show us all how to make the Baker’s muffins from City Bakery – those crunchy pull-apart, monkey bread, apple, cinnamon are amazing and I would love to know how they’re done (if you are so inclined, of course).

    I am making these veggies tonight. Thanks!

  24. Matt

    This came out great! I didn’t have any fresh herbs around and substituted ground sage for the marjoram.

    The butter seems like it would be great in other things, but in this case is there an advantage over just throwing everything in together?

  25. Grace

    I made this today but subbed (soaked and diced) sundried tomatoes for the capers, they are salty, tangy, and a little chewy, perfect in this recipe! I also used fresh basil instead of marjoram (that’s what I had lying around) which was a nice combo with the tomatoes. I also used coconut oil instead of butter (again, what I had). The end result is fantastically delicious. I can’t wait to toss it with hot veggies, but I suspect it would be wonderful on pasta, bread, potatoes, or pretty much anything.

  26. Regina Siciliano

    Hi Debbie,
    I made the Strawberry Sommer Cake. What a delight. My friends loved it and it not last 2 days.

  27. I took a chance trying this as my husband says he won’t eat brussel sprouts! He actually ate this dish – you’ve made him a convert. I couldn’t find the Romanesco but hope to next time I make these.