A while back I got a cookbook called Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables. Part of what had prompted getting this book was my husbands loving but repetitive “we need to eat more vegetables”. What you need to know was that I was cooking with lots of vegetables but they often weren’t the star of the show. So when Joshua McFadden put out this well structured cookbook with new and interesting vegetable recipes I was intrigued. Now, having done a few recipes from this book I am absolutely hooked.
The latest vegetable to take center stage on my menu? Cauliflower. Yup, the white stinky vegetable that often gets ignored on a vegetable platter. I must admit. I have never been a fan but I knew enough about food to know it RARELY is the ingredient and all too often the way in which it’s prepared. I knew you could do interesting things with cauliflower after having made Heston Blumenthal’s Cauliflower Mac and Cheese. In this he takes you through preparing the cauliflower in three different ways to make the whole thing come together. First is simmering it in milk to make a sauce, then there’s frying florets to be folded in for crunch, and then raw cauliflower folded in as well. All of which totally works and is quite tasty. They issue is this also has a lot of cheese and pasta so it’s hard to say cauliflower really is shown in it’s best light in this dish.
When I saw Six Seasons had several recipes using cauliflower I wasn’t too sure, but with the interesting flavor pairings and successes of his other dishes I jumped right in with Potato and Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Olives, Feta, and Arugula. The image in the cookbook was eye catching but I still was unsure. Roasted cauliflower can make the flavor even more pungent. Add to that arugala that all to often can get it’s own “off” taste if it’s even the least bit wilted. Then finally there’s feta. I am not the hugest fan due to it’s dry and sometimes pasty texture but I followed the recipe and boy was I amazed at how this came together.
What’s even more interesting to me is that just a few days prior to making this dish I had been telling my husband that I really missed my pasta salad. This was something I referred to as my Antipasto Salad due to the fact that it was loaded with salami, olives, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, pepperocinni, sun dried tomatoes, pasta, and topped in a zesty Italian dressing. When it came time to eat the Cauliflower Salad I was curious, but then after the first bite I was sold. Not only is this a great salad but this now will be my go to when I have that craving for the pasta salad I used to make. Sure it’s hard to go wrong with you add potatoes, olives, and pepperocini’s to a salad but the cauliflower, arugula and feta make it all come together. This salad has great “chew”, it has a wide array of flavors, it has a nice saltiness from the olives, a nice zing from the peppers, and the feta is used to make a simple and creamy dressing to toss everything in.
This meal is quick and easy to throw together and I think it will make you appreciate cauliflower in a whole new way.
Potato & Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Olives, Feta, & Arugula
- 1 ½ pounds Fingerling Potatoes
- 142 grams Arugula
- 1 ½ pounds Cauliflower, on head, cut or broken into bite sized pieces
- 4 ounces Olive Oil
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
- Juice of 1 Lemon, separated
- 2 ounces Pitted Kalamata Olives, roughly chopped
- 2 ounces Castelvetrano Olives, roughly chopped
- ¼ cup Sliced Pepperoncini, roughly chopped
- 8 stems Fresh Thyme, leaves only
- ½ teaspoon Dried Chile Flakes
- ½ small Red Onion, thinly sliced
- 5 ounces feta cheese
- Add water to a 4 quart pot and heavily salt it. Add the potatoes, bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 25 minutes. Drain and evenly distribute amongst the plates or containers. Gently “smash” them with the back of a spoon. Evenly divide the arugula over the potatoes. I like doing at this point as it will help soften and slightly wilt the arugula but if you prefer you can do it at the end to keep it as crisp as possible.
- While you are brining your water to a boil, pre heat the oven to 375°F.
- Put the cauliflower in a bowl, add half the olive oil, a three finger pinch of salt, a few cracks of pepper, and juice of ½ the lemon. Toss to coat all the florets. Spread them over a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Evenly disburse the cauliflower amongst the smashed potatoes.
- In a large bowl add both olives, pepperocini’s, half the thyme, and chile flakes. Toss well to combine. Divide evenly amongst the potatoes and cauliflower. Slice the red onion and every divide amongst the servings as well.
- In a food processor, in the small bowl insert if it has one, add 4 ounces of the feta, the rest of the thyme, another pinch of salt and some more black pepper. Close the lid and run until the feta is no longer crumbly. Open the shoot, with it still running, and drizzle in the other half of the olive oil. Once smooth stop, open, scrape down the sides, add the juice from the other half of the lemon, close and run again until nice and smooth. If it’s looking to crumbly add more olive oil till you get the consistency you are looking for.
- Dress each of the salads with the feta dressing and crumble the remaining feta on top. (The salads can be dressed well in advance since this dressing is not “wet” it will not get watery or make anything soggy.)
I find this salad really is best served at room temperature. If you are keeping it refrigerated place it on the counter for a little bit before serving it.