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.
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
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.