I love a good salad dressing, and I make my own at least once a week, usually by shaking up something in a jar of almost-gone salsa, jam, tahini or nut butter or otherwise using up odds and ends in the fridge.
But come salad season, I also love recipes that don’t really require a dressing, ones where the elements of a dressing are built into the other ingredients. Tomatoes drizzled with olive oil qualify, because their juices provide the acidity you’d normally find in a vinaigrette. And in this cauliflower salad from Erin Gleeson’s lovely new book, The Forest Feast Road Tripit’s the combination of olive oil with juicy, sweet-tart grapes that does the trick.
Gleeson’s book, beautifully illustrated with her own watercolors and photographs, is about recipes inspired by her family’s California road trips. This salad’s inspiration: “a dish cleverly called Cauli-fornia that we tasted at the inventive, vegetable-forward restaurant Satellite in downtown Santa Barbara,” she writes.
With its curry-powder seasoning and walnuts in the mix, it strikes me as a plant-based, lightened-up take on a curried chicken salad, and it’s just the type of thing I start craving as the weather warms up. It also takes advantage of the leaves and stems of the cauliflower, avoiding waste and adding even more color and texture.
Like any salad, it would also take well to customizing: sub in other seasonings, nuts and fresh or dried fruits – I’m dreaming of smoked paprika, marcona almonds and figs – and see where it takes you.
curried cauliflower salad
Active time: 20 minutes | Total time: 35 minutes
1 large head (680g) cauliflower
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp curry powder
½tsp fine salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
110g red grapes, half
60g raw or toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
2 scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced
Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 220. Set a large, rimmed baking tray on the rack while the oven preheats.
Remove the florets from the head of the cauliflower and cut them into bite-size pieces. Thinly slice the core and stem, and cut into 1 centimeter sticks; thinly slice the leaves. Transfer to a large bowl and toss with the oil, garlic powder, curry, salt and pepper until evenly coated.
Carefully spread the cauliflower over the hot baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower is lightly browned in spots. Transfer to a serving platter and let cool to room temperature.
Sprinkle with the grapes, walnuts and scallions, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Taste, and season with more salt and/or pepper, if desired.
How to store: Refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Nutrition information per serving | calories: 255; total fat: 20g; saturated fat: 2g; cholesterol: 0mg; sodium: 348mg; carbohydrates: 17g; dietary fiber: 5g; sugar: 8g; protein: 6g.
This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.
© New York Times
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.