Warm cauliflower, feta & almond salad

Nestled within my lengthy list of first world irritations and peeves is one which frequently shoots right up the list when I’m baking or cooking: measuring dry ingredients in terms of volume.  I’m looking at you, USA.  New Zealand and Australia, you’re guilty, too, though admittedly a little less so.  Things like caster sugar and flour I can deal with (I still think it’s ridiculous, but at least it’s easy enough to convert to a weight).  It’s when we get to things like raisins, nuts, chocolate chips that it starts to be an issue.  Things that it makes no sense to measure as a volume.  And then we get to the truly ridiculous.  Exhibit A: “3 cups of bite-size pieces of cauliflower.”

“3 cups of bite-size pieces of cauliflower” doesn’t help me a great deal when I’m doing my shopping and cauliflower comes in whole heads, not bite-sized pieces.  Perhaps some people have the magical ability of looking at produce and being able to accurately estimate what volume it will take up when chopped up.  I do not have this magical ability.  This isn’t helped by the fact that I suck at anything that involves estimating.  In fact, I nearly didn’t try this warm cauliflower, feta and almond salad out, solely on account of the specified 3 cups of bite-sized pieces of cauliflower.

Luckily I did though, because this salad is truly delicious, both warm or cooled to room temperature.  It’s super versatile as well, and works on its own as a light meal, as a side dish or as a more substantial meal when mixed with couscous or pasta.  I’m a little on-the-fence about cauliflower – I like it in gratin form with a béchamel sauce and covered in cheese, but other than that I usually find it a little bland and boring.  I was more attracted by the rest of the salad’s ingredients – red onion, lemon, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, feta, almonds – than the cauliflower.  But I actually think that cauliflower works wonderfully here.  It adds a lovely crunch (a cooked crunch though, not a raw crunch), and since most of the other ingredients are quite flavourful, it helps mellow that out and balance them all together.  This is one of my new favourite warm salads.  Not only is it scrumptious, it’s easy enough to prepare and is entirely “from scratch.”  As a result, I’m submitting it to this week’s Made With Love Mondays, hosted by Javelin Warrior.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I found 3 cups of bite-sized pieces of cauliflower to be just a little less than one cauliflower.  I measured it out of interest whilst I was preparing the salad.

Warm cauliflower, feta & almond salad

Serves 3-4 as a light meal or starter
Adapted from Dish, August-September 2012

This salad is an incredibly versatile dish.  It works as a light salad on its own or can be used as a side dish (the original recipe serves it with chicken).  It can also be turned into a more substantial meal by adding couscous or pasta, which is great for a packed lunch, since it’s delicious whether served warm or cooled.  As with any salad, the ingredient quantities are really more guidelines than set in stone.

Ingredients

1 cauliflower
2-3 tbsp organic rapeseed oil (canola oil)
1 large red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 unwaxed lemon
90 ml white wine
½ tsp ground cumin
Pinch of chilli flakes
5-6 sun-dried tomatoes
Small handful parsley leaves stripped from the stems
Handful roasted skin-on almonds
2 tbsp capers, drained
150g feta

Directions

1.  Chop the cauliflower up into bite-sized pieces.  Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a high heat.  Add the cauliflower once hot with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, until coloured in places.  Add 2 tbsp of water to the pan, cover and cook for a further 2 mins, occasionally shaking the pan.  The cauliflower should still be a little crunchy.  Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and set aside.

2.  Whilst the cauliflower is cooking, dice the onion and set aside.  Return the pan to the heat, add a little more oil if required, add the onion and cook until soft but not brown.  As the onion is cooking, finely dice the garlic, and zest and juice the lemon.  Once the onion is soft, add the garlic, lemon zest and juice, wine, ground cumin and chilli flakes and 85 ml of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 mins.

3.  Meanwhile, finely slice the sun-dried tomatoes and chop the parsley.  Roughly chop the almonds and set aside, ready for serving.  Once the onion mixture is ready, stir in the sun-dried tomatoes, capers and most of the parsley, followed by the cauliflower, and season with freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Mix well, remove from the heat and split the cauliflower mixture evenly between plates (or in a large serving bowl), crumble the feta over the top, followed by the roughly chopped almonds and any remaining parsley.

Enjoy!

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8 Comments

Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

8 responses to “Warm cauliflower, feta & almond salad

  1. It’s funny, I almost think the opposite: I am ok with things like chocolate chips being measured in volume, because accuracy isn’t that important. I find volume measurements for flour a pain though because its density varies a lot depending on the humidity. So 1 cup of flour today might not be the same weight of flour as 1 cup of flour tomorrow! I agree though, 3 cups of cauliflower is a bit ludicrous 🙂

    • Mel

      That’s a good point actually – I hadn’t really thought about humidity affecting flour’s density. I tend to just convert the cup measurements into grams anyway using a standard conversion and then weigh them out when I make the recipe. It’s true that chocolate chips and so on don’t usually matter too much precision-wise, but it frustrates me when I have to make up my shopping list and figure out how much I need to buy for a recipe. Either way, cauliflower is pushing it! 🙂

  2. hahahaha is that a big cauliflower or small one…;-)

  3. This is a very curious salad, Mel – I’ve never combined these ingredients with cauliflower for a salad like this and I’m intrigued by the flavors. Thanks so much for sharing with Made with Love Mondays. And I had to chuckle reading your frustration with “volume” measurements of especially recipes originating from the US – I’m guilty of using volume measures for all kinds of stuff in my recipes because I simply don’t own a scale and I know that many of my readers (especially non-blogger readers) don’t own kitchen scales either. But you’re right – listing the number of cups for some ingredients really isn’t helpful when you’re shopping 😉

    • Mel

      I was totally intrigued by the combination of flavours when I saw the recipe, so I just had to try it – it’s definitely worth it! It’s funny the differences between countries – few of my US friends own scales (particularly, as you say, non-bloggers), but most of my non-US friends do. I really love my little electronic scales – whilst for salads, etc. precision doesn’t matter so much, I feel it really does for things like pastry and especially macarons (I think my focus on accuracy also partially stems from being a scientist). I guess one perpetuates what one grew up with (in my case, ingredients by weight) and the system that most of the recipes one follows are in. At least there are some really good websites that help with conversions between the two systems (thankfully!) so it’s not too much of an issue. Except for pieces of cauliflower!

  4. This is a wonderful combination and I am really intrigued by the flavours… I sure would love to have some of this salad for lunch.

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