Sweet and Savory Cauliflower Salad

I would pretty much follow Heidi from 101 Cookbooks to the end of the earth if she promised me a meal. Not one of her recipes has ever disappointed me and in fact many of them have become staples in our house. She’s always been lovely when I have reached out with various questions or thoughts. This recipe is based on her Black Pepper Cauliflower Salad, and in fact that dressing mostly identical to hers – I just changed up some technique and some of the components.

This is the gigantic cauliflower I found at the farmers’ market last weekend – next to a pepper grinder for scale. It was probably as big as my head.

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When I made it the first time, I didn’t have apples so I used dried dates and it was delicious. So I did that for awhile. Our new co-op doesn’t have dried dates in bulk, so I went hunting for other fruit and found dried figs, which sounded intriguing. And then I realized that there were baskets of fresh figs available, so I snagged one of those instead. Adding slices of one small apple makes for a nice crunch though, so I added that back in. Try any combination of fresh/dried fruit – I have a feeling you can’t go wrong.

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Sweet and Savory Cauliflower Salad with Lentils
Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 pound head of cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 3/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • Scant 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt + more for roasting
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 2/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes, soaked if necessary
  • 10 small figs and one small apple or 10 dried dates
  • 2/3 cup chopped black olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 cup black lentils, soaked

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss cauliflower florets with oil, season with salt and roast for 40 – 45 minutes.
  3. Add lentils and 2 cups water to a pot. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat simmer for 20 – 30 minutes until soft but not falling apart. Drain and set aside.
  4. While the cauliflower and lentils cook, prepare the dressing. Combine onion, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper in a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5-7 minutes until it reduces and becomes a bit pink from the red onion.
  5. If your sun-dried tomatoes are really dry, soak them in hot water to make them easier to work with. After they’ve softened, slice them thinly.
  6. Slice the figs and apple thinly (or quarter the dates, if using them instead.)
  7. When cauliflower is done, add to a bowl with the the fruit, sun-dried tomatoes, chopped olives, capers, and dressing. Toss to coat. Top with toasted pistachios and toss one more time.
  8. Serve over lentils.
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