cauliflower, 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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71 comments on cauliflower, bean and feta salad

  1. Stephanie

    Does Alex have an accent? That would be so sexy. My husband is from New Zealand, but sigh, no sexy accent. But hey, at least both are men are super cute and handy in the kitchen!

  2. Ooh! I have a question which I would love, love, love to know your answer to. It’s sort of linked to your post, too. Anyway, what would be your recommendations for eating out in New York? A couple of tips would be great. I would always rather have a recommendation from someone who lives in a city and who I know has great taste in food, than a guidebook – if you could share a favourite spot or two of yours that would be wonderful!

  3. I hate when something just doesn’t hit the spot. It’s so fustrating! So what do you do then? Do you reach for a cookie, do you pout and think about what to do to make it better, or just give up?

  4. I hate the feeling of being left unsatisfied after a meal! I LOVED your last cauliflower recipe, so I’m sure this is another winner! I might even make it tomorrow! Maybe you just didn’t have the hankering for cauliflower when it let you down?

  5. Nothing like feeling unsatisfied. Sorry!

    My question…

    I made your macaroni and cheese recipe, and am wondering if the brand of cheddar used could make a huge difference? My store didn’t have the brand you recommended so I used Tillamook instead. It’s a decent brand, has worked fine for me in other things, but I’m sad to say that when I made your macaroni and cheese (followed to the letter) there was so much grease swimming around among the noodles that we had a really hard time eating it. :( Even my three year old who lives for macaroni and cheese didn’t like it so much.

    I don’t blame you— I’m just wondering if the brand of cheese could have made that much difference? I didn’t expect it to be low fat by any stretch, but after pulling making sure to take care of the chunks in the cottage cheese and shredding all that cheddar….I had hoped for a better result. Tips? Ideas?

  6. Allie

    I loved the passover list– made the idiot cake in about 3 seconds flat (with lots of chaos around). I could imagine liking an egg white lifted cake more, but we had dinner guests coming, kids playing and separating and beating eggs just wasn’t in the cards… My question: what to do with ramps? I bought a few bunches and need some ideas. Have asparagus and other greens around if that helps.

  7. This is exactly what makes cooking fun. You can have a completely off week in the kitchen..God knows I’ve done that. That’s when you come back strong and amaze even yourself.
    This too shall pass!

  8. Hmm, back to the cauliflower again? It certainly looks better here than when it’s steamed. Nice simple salad, I like the combination of ingredients – I wouldn’t have thought to put those all together. How do you do it and make it look so good? I agree though, you do need to new things once in a while even if it doesn’t turn out incredible.

    The Peanut Butter Boy

  9. Mandy! Great question–I made the mac and cheese with Tillamook, too (I’m an Oregon girl, I was trying to be homey!) and it was SO greasy, especially once I reheated. I used an extra sharp version; I almost think a younger and creamier version would be better? Here’s mine…

  10. Jessica

    I’ve been reading you since the early iVillage days (found you two weeks after you got married). My husband and I got married 4 months after you and Alex and up until last week when we watched “Juno”, we were very much on the no-kidlets track. Now we’re talking… Anyway, once upon a time, you mentioned that this year three would be a good year to start creating little Perelmans – not to sound like your mom, but do we get to start hearing about beautiful little frecklefaced babies? :-)

  11. Kaitlin

    I have been reading for about six months now…I am a college student who can’t wait to graduate and have a “real” kitchen! I need an organziation system for recipes. How do you bookmark and organize recipes you find online? I have been printing and putting them in my recipe book…but it is getting a bit unruly. Any ideas? Thanks!

    1. Cherylynn

      I would LOVE an answer to this myself. Mine started out nice and neat and orderly and somehow got away from me and those recipes marked want to make soon kept getting buried and perhaps will one day will make it back to the top of the list…

    2. deb

      I keep a giant master recipe list in a Google Doc. It might say “Chicken Salad” with a bunch of links to chicken salads that have piqued my interest, or to other documents where I have chicken salad recipes I’m working on. Recipes I work on have their own documents. It’s not very organized but it works… most of the time!

  12. Renee

    Love your blog. My brother lives in Manhattan and he cooks most nights at home. I would love to know if you scale down the recipes for two or if you make the entire amount? And if you do what do you do with the leftovers

  13. stacy

    Maybe this ties into the leftovers question above, but we always hear about what you cook for dinner–what are your typical weekday breakfasts and lunches? And do you and Alex snack a lot?

  14. charlotte s

    oooh! its so frustrating when you spend so much time on a dish and it comes out just flat and uninteresting. happens to me often when i’m distracted or stressed. and then i usually ask my husband to make food for the next few days. his repertoire is limited though, so i usually get back in there after a while.

    i LOVE roasted cauliflower though, ive done it often just on its own, but apart from snacking right off the baking dish, standing above the oven, it does lack a little something to make the transition to a dinner table. would love to experiment with salads- maybe more of a leafy green would help make this salad better? maybe some roasted peppers? olives? what about a cross between a panzanella and greek salad? with croutons for the extra crunch? hmmmm- will be trying that soon!

  15. charlotte s

    as for you Q&A- i also have a tiny kitchen- and would love some tips on how you maximize on your space/ organize? pictures?!!

  16. I know how you feel. I just finished making a dessert I’d been thinking about for over a week and it just didn’t turn out how I’d envisioned… the texture wasn’t quite what I wanted, but I know how to fix it.

    Which brings me to my question. How many times will you make something before posting it? I’m always worried about writing a key measurement down wrong when I post, but I just can’t bring myself to cooking something twice to double check it.

  17. Angela

    Yay, another Q&A! Do you use your Kitchenaid mixer to knead bread or pizza dough? If so, at what speed do you set it? The instruction manual says not to go over 2 but the dough doesn’t seem to really come together at that speed. Hmm, maybe this is the world telling me to knead my dough by hand?

    Also, do you have a recipe for a sourdough starter?

    Many thanks! (Wow, the preview function is pretty awesome – kudos)

  18. Krissy

    I’ve had the same disappointment recently in my adventures to find the perfect butterscotch pudding. I’m close, but there is just something missing! I’ll just have to keep trying:)

    I’d be curious to hear about the latest lens addition to the family…I’d like to add a wide angle sometime this year. And what happened to the tips section? I really enjoyed the information about flour, etc. Love the website, your photos, and your recipe selection. Thanks for putting it all together for us to enjoy!

  19. Like one of the commenters above, I too want to know what you do with leftovers – do you scale down the recipes? I often cook for my three roommates but sometimes it’s just me and I get sick of leftovers after a day. Do you reconfigure them or just reheat? Love your blog :)

  20. I’ve been a long time reader and adore this site. It’s funny to think that we eat many of the same meals you and Alex do as I make so many of the recipes you post! Your writing is thoughtful and funny. And let’s not get going on your photos. Brilliant food photography. Side job maybe? Food stylist and photographer? I’m just sayin.

    Anyway, this site has been a constant source of inspiration for me. I’m also inspired by a handful of cookbooks on my shelf. I guess my question is in regards to your cookbook collection. What are your five favorite cookbooks right now? (I say right now because my list is always changing.)

    Thanks for continuing to inspire all of us in the kitchen!

    Ps. I’m making the brownie mosaic cheesecake for a wedding shower this weekend. My husband is so jealous he’s missing out!

  21. I so want to be inspired. I find cooking tedious and boring and I hate that I feel that way about it. Because, you know. I’m stuck with it for the rest of my life. :)

    This site helps. :)

  22. Joanna

    Ooh, question time! I recently moved to Manhattan after spending pretty much my whole life in the ‘burbs, and I’ve adjusted by now to the smaller kitchen space, but grocery shopping still causes me problems. You seem to have it figured out much better than I do! Where do you shop, and how often? Do you plan a week’s worth of meals and buy everything on the weekends? Or do you decide what you want to make on any given night and go buy the ingredients that day? Does most of your produce come from green markets, or supermarkets, or specialty stores? Any tips/guidance on what works or doesn’t work would be greatly appreciated!

    (Also, for the salad – towards the end of roasting, I like to sprinkle bread crumbs on cauliflower and pop it under the broiler for a few minutes. Maybe that would provide some extra crunch?)

  23. Celeste

    Do you have a favorite food texture? The reason I ask is that so many of your recipes seem to have food that really retains the boundaries of what it started out as or how you chopped it. If I had to answer the question, I would say I prefer softer foods with a special love of what I would call silken foods. I had bubble tea for the first time recently, and I was thrilled.

  24. I really like when food bloggers are honest about their recipes. If it needs something, let us know! I think the cauliflower looks fabulous. Did it have crunch? Did it need to be roasted longer? Was it too dry? I think when you have a craving for something you’ve gotta think about what exactly it is: flavor? texture? spice? meat!? if one of those things aren’t involved, it ain’t gonna satisfy. But I think this looks delish – maybe as a sidedish!

    Also, the thing about living in NYC is that you’ve got so many cheap options for meals, sometimes it’s actually cheaper to grab something than make it at home. In fact, it’s cheaper for us to go up the street for Indian food than to make it in our house b/c the prices are SO low. great blog.

    amy @ we are never full

  25. I’d try toasted pine nuts for some crunch, I think. And maybe garbanzos instead of kidney beans?
    Oh, and if you are on the west coast, Trader Joe’s has crumbled feta with Mediterranean herbs that I almost always use when feta is called for (pizza!),/i>

  26. How incredible to pull up your website while bored at work, and find this very nice mention of me? Thanks, Deb! I can totally relate to your frustration about cooking something not up to par, and applaud your honesty about it! The photos still look beautiful, though.

  27. Barbara C

    This is for Angela- for about a year I have been using a starter I grew following Nancy Silverton’s, “Breads from the La Brea Bakery”, and the results have been excellent. Totally worth the effort of growing the starter for 2 weeks from scratch. I love this book, but personally I follow a more “flexible” approach to the recipes (I never test the temperature of the water, for example, which the author considers essential). Oh, and the KitchenAid is great (and speed 2 is right) for kneading, but you may want to finish by hand. Often it seems best to start with less flour than you think you need, and add a bit more to get the final consistency.

  28. Sorry, was hoping for another sweet recipe…this 1 just doesn’t do it for me. From the pictures to the ingredients – I’m just not feeling the love. Must be the main ingredient califlower.

  29. Ann

    I have tried a couple of your salads – and they are winners – so I’m excited to try this one, bc feta is one of my favorite cheeses. And, roasted cauli (or brocco, for that matter) is surprisingly yummy. Speaking of *not* using ovens, I lived in an apartment for 3 years in my early 30s – and used the oven completely for storage – the entire 3 years. Oddly, kinda proud of that…

  30. Jessica

    Deb, I LOVE your freckles.

    Do you have any suggestions for icing that is not too sweet? I love using buttercream to decorate cupcakes, for example, but it’s just way too much for me when there’s an inch of icing on my little cupcake, though any less sense stingy and not as cute…this is a weird question, and I totally understand if you don’t want to answer it, haha. I guess I’m just looking for different ways to make a cupcake look pretty.

    I love your blog- it’s my homepage!

  31. I get in an absolutely foul mood whenever something I cook just bombs. Seriously, no failure irritates me more. I’ve been having bad luck with salads lately, too.

  32. Adina

    Oh-oh-oh Q&A – I have another for you!
    I have adopted the Blue Chip Chocolate Chip cookie recipe as “mine” but had a question! Does it make a difference if you use cold butter or melt the butter. Being lazy, I always melt the butter and I didn’t know if it made any difference? Thanks and TGIF!!!

  33. I’m not big on cauliflower, but those perfectly browned edges make it look just so good, I might be swayed.
    My question… I read in your last Q&A that you liked to freeze soups. The last time I froze soup (a delightful vegetable packed tortilla) the veggies went in slightly crips and bright, and came out very mushy and .. sadly, inedible. Do you have any super secret freezing tips?

  34. deb

    Hi Natalie — I don’t think all soups freeze well, for the same reason that not all frozen bagged vegetables work. Zucchini, eggplant and a couple others always defrost in a mushy, unstructured state. Peas, peppers and other vegetables freeze better. Pureed soups freeze great, and I make those the most. I hope that helps–it really is a bit of trial and error, freezing things.

  35. Feta is good with anything as far as I’m concerned. This recipe is especially interesting because of it’s use for cauliflower. I am always look for more things to do with cauliflower.

  36. tim

    Definitely hit the spot here. I used a lot of arugula instead of the endive, made the salad much more green. It sounds like your version is a lot better than the original too: I thought the amount of lemon was perfect (and I am usually a wimp when it comes to tangy or sour things) and I cannot imagine this salad without the toasted walnuts. Delish.

  37. Esther

    I made this last night, adding beets and omitting the walnuts, chives, and parsley (because I didn’t have any of them and the store down the street was closed). I’m eager to try this recipe with the ingredients I left out–this turned out just right for a warm weather dinner and refreshing leftover lunch! Yum.

  38. Kara

    My boyfriend just made this and it was fantastic. He did, however, make some changes that other people might build on. He used Romanesco cauliflower from our local farmers market and sliced up Romaine lettuce rather than endive. In addition, he said he was “winging it” with the dressing, so it may have come out a bit wetter than what was originally intended. Thanks so much for the terrific recipe!

  39. ApronGirl

    I made this salad last night – amazingly I had almost all of the ingredients on hand. I substituted the endive for some sauteed kale, which was a delicious addition to the flavor profile. I also added a generous tablespoon of lemon zest, and went lighter on the olive oil so it wouldn’t be too wet. My husband raved about it and there wasn’t a bite left for lunch today!

  40. scott

    i seriously can’t make this enough. endive i find sometimes if i go to the grocery store 5 miles from the house but at the one 1/4 of a mile away…well, they never have it. so i often just grab whatever and substitute it. tonight i used arugala (i have seriously made this recipe at least 6 times in the past two months). i LOVE it warm but oh my it is good the next day cold when everything has had a chance to (i can’t think of the correct word so i will use whatever pops in my head)…when it has all had a chance to caress itself…ha. and sort of ewwww. YUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM

  41. Amber

    Accidentally opened a can of red kidney beans when I needed black beans for a dish the other night. So, I needed a kidney bean recipe as not to waste the can. This was scrumptious! Cauliflower is my favorite, roasted is tops and the beans were a sweet complement. First recipe I tried from your site – just discovered it this week. I will definitely come back for more!

  42. This recipe is so so good, thank you for posting it! My own tweaks to my taste/local ingredient cooperation: sub apple cider vinegar for red wine, no endive, zest of half a lemon and…purple cauliflower! The color of this dish with the purple (w/deep red kidney beans, the white feta & all the green) makes it look just as delicious as it is…!

  43. I’ve made this recipe twice – the first time, the flavor was good but it was WAY too salty, so this time I cut the salt in the dressing to 3/4 tsp and it was perfect. Am I using the wrong kind of salt or something?

  44. Loved this recipe! I noticed that it really needs the feta to tame the lemon zest somewhat and the bitterness of the endive. Very lovely salad. You don’t disappoint! :)

  45. KS

    Always use your site as one of my first go-tos! Thanks for this one, we just did our own spin on it last night using juice (Squished from my mini hands so maybe 1/4!!) from 1/2 lemon and some zest, added a spoonful of homemade jalepeno jelly, some cherry tomatoes, arugula and toasted pinenuts instead of endive and walnuts.
    It has become a staple in our house!

  46. Carol Smith

    Thank you so much for this recipe, it’s awesome! However, the recipe doesn’t mention an amount of lemon peel but the instructions mention using it. Do you know how much lemon peel I need?

  47. Just made an improvised version of this (I didn’t measure anything), and almost ate the entire batch. No endive, so I roasted some kale alongside the cauliflower. I loved the rosemary in this, and didn’t even bother with warming it with the oil first. A little orange zest along with the lemon was lovely. I’m having a difficult time not finishing off the entire bowl!

  48. I also enjoy this salad! I made the following changes: fresh spinach instead of endive, balsamic vinegar instead of wine vinegar, no walnuts (forget them!), used double the rosemary + 3 cloves minced garlic in the warm oil. A great weeknight salad, awesome leftovers for lunch. Thank you for posting the recipe even though it didn’t hit the spot for you!

  49. Louise

    Just made this to serve for dinner tonight and had to try a bit. Wonderful!! Just shows that there are different tastes out there. It totally does it for me. Thanks!

  50. This was lovely! Endives were on sale, so I got some. And then I got home and thought, “What the heck is an endive?” and after a little internet research my second question was, “And can I do something with it that doesn’t involve bacon?” My husband and I enjoyed this fabulous salad with a baguette in the park by our house which was filled with summer activity. It was perfect… Thanks Deb!

  51. East West Coast Girl

    Cauliflower and Beans? Sounds like something I SHOULD eat instead of want to eat. I whipped this salad together anyway and it was fabulous. Subbed the kidney beans for cannellini beans but nothing was lost. And I’m still convinced it was Good for Me.
    Now I can traipse through Farmers Market and buy “winter vegetables” without fear. Looking forward to doing searches on your site by veg ingredient and inhaling more deliciousness until spring.

  52. Carol

    Just made this as a summer salad with some BBQ ribs…delish! I used cannelloni beans instead of kidney beans and didn’t use the salt. Great recipe.

  53. CJ

    This salad is soooo good! I made it with a fresh head of kale (instead of endives), since kale was on sale this week. Definitely a repeat recipe!

  54. Jess

    Just made this and thought it was delicious. My market didn’t have endive so I used radicchio. And the beans were an excellent reason to pull out my new Instant Pot. I also added some extra lemon.

  55. I made this with a few substitutions. I used chickpeas because I prefer them, plus some fennel that needed to be used up. Oh, and mint because I didn’t have any parsley! The proportions were a bit off but it was fabulous. The fennel I just thinly sliced and added raw. It added a great flavor and crunch.

  56. Flora

    I make this allll the time. Now that it’s winter again, I’m happy to get back to roasting cauliflower for it. Like the other posters who made this, I didn’t use endives. I used them before and it was too overpowering. I use 1.5 hearts of romaine and it works out perfectly. Maybe skipping endives is the secret to making this a recipe that really hit the spot?

  57. Lisa

    I am making this tonight with the addition of pickled onions and frisee instead of endive. I think it might be smashing.

  58. Kristin

    Didn’t have any chives, so added more chopped parsley. Very very good and will def make again. Fed two people for dinner with just a small bit left over

  59. Courtney

    I made this tonight with a few tweaks and loved it, apparently more than Deb did :) I will def make this again!
    What I tweaked:
    -I used white kidney beans vs red as I like them so much better
    -extra chives as chives are great
    -added some kalamata olives cuz why not
    -I had to forgo the walnuts due to allergies, I used a handful of pistachios instead.
    -I didn’t have any vinegar but between the rosemary oil and the lemon juice it was fine without.

  60. Kari

    This was a miss for me. I found that the vinagrette turned the roasted cauliflower into mush. The individual ingredients are good, and everything meshed well right up that point.