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.
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.
Sweet and Savory Cauliflower Salad with Lentils
- 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
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Toss cauliflower florets with oil, season with salt and roast for 40 – 45 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slice the figs and apple thinly (or quarter the dates, if using them instead.)
- 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.
- Serve over lentils.