This is one of those dishes (like my caponata recipe) that really just tastes better slightly warmed or at room temperature. Although I’m sure there’d be no complaints if you served it chilled either.
It was inspired by my visit to Foodilic in Brighton a few weeks ago (read the review here). Their cauliflower salad also contained cooked quinoa (you could always add a cup to the recipe below if you wanted to), plus some dried pomegranate seeds, which I don’t think I’d actually tried before. It was really good, and one of their stand-out salad dishes. My creation contains some slightly different ingredients, but I’d like to think it tastes just as good!
The humble cauliflower has a great capacity to absorb surrounding flavours and transform into something greater. In this recipe the caulk is really only just blanched in hot water (and the stir-fried celery should also retain its bite) – resulting in a lovely crunchy dish that also benefits from the depth of flavour and silky texture of the caramelised leeks and onions that mingle with it.
Sultanas in a salad might sound a little 1970s – or was it more the 80s when these little things started popping up in all sorts of savoury dishes? – but you’ll be glad you added them here.
We had this salad at the weekend as a side dish with a marinated, spicy, lemony roast chicken and it was the perfect accompaniment. Didn’t really require anything more on the plate. So without further ado…
Warm cauliflower salad
One large cauliflower
1 onion, very finely sliced
One large leek, finely sliced
2-3 sticks of celery, finely sliced
Half cup of sultanas
2 cloves garlic
1 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
1 tbsp Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
One third cup of white wine vinegar
Juice of half a lemon
Olive oil for frying
Handful of pine nuts, toasted
Sea salt and ground black pepper to taste
Cut the cauliflower into small florets. I never waste the stalk, just slice this very finely and add it to the mix. Boil some water in a pan and add the cauliflower for around five minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the cauliflower to continue cooking in the residual heat for another five minutes. Then drain off the water. They should be half-crunchy, half-cooked.
In another pan, fry the onions, garlic and leek in some olive oil until soft and translucent. Then add the sultanas and the celery slices and fry for another few minutes until the celery just starts to soften but is not fully cooked.
Add in the tamari, Worcestershire sauce and sugar and cook until all the vegetables are well coated and caramelised. Fold in the blanched caulflower florets and coat in the onion mixture.
Next add the vinegar and lemon juice, and season to taste. You may not need any extra salt because of the tamari already added.
Finally, dry toast the pine nuts in a pan (I think flaked almonds would also work well). Never use oil in the pan when toasting nuts, you’ll just end up burning them.
Sprinkle the toasted nuts over the top before serving.