Mediterranean Infused Cauliflower Salad
This deliciously simple salad is pretty enough for a dinner party, but easy enough for a casual night in. The rustic ingredients are few, but together create a bright Mediterranean inspired flavor. This salad is mild enough for finicky eaters, but can satisfy the palate of the discerning foodie.
The combination of arugula, cauliflower (or broccoflower), feta and pine nuts, together with extra virgin olive oil, make this a highly nutritious salad complete with all the co-factors needed to make those fat-soluble nutrients bioavailable for your body. Roasting yields a little extra flavor and texture, but if nutrition trumps crisp factor, steam the cauliflower to retain the most nutrients. Better yet, with steaming your salad will be ready in but 20 minutes total cook and prep!
Although this Mediterranean infused salad holds it’s own as a starter or light meal, it’s a great side to eggs for a sophisticated brunch, or alongside simple roasted or pan fried meat and fish preparations for a full meal at lunch or dinner.
This salad is especially tasty when served with a lighter dose of arugula, allowing the cauliflower, feta and pine nut flavors and textures to be more prominent. So go light on the greens!
The pretty blossoms I added to my salad are coming from the flowering arugula stalks in the second photo. They’re not part of the recipe per se, but if you’re lucky enough to find lovely flowering wild arugula at your farmer’s market, I’m sure you’ll be called to adorn your salad with those sunny blossoms.
Roasting cauliflower adds a bit of texture and flavor to the salad, but if you’re pressed for time or would prefer a more nutritious meal, you can steam the florets in about 7 minutes steaming time. Steaming will turn the whole dish into a 2o minute affair.
The cauliflower can be served cold with the rest of the ingredients or placed warm over the raw arugula for a slightly wilted warm salad. I prefer the florets warm, but it’s also very tasty pulled right out of the fridge as leftovers, great for lunch or a picnic.
In my photos the green cauliflower is a variety of broccoflower I found at the farmer’s market. If you shop at your local farmer’s market, chances are you’ll come across less common varieties of veggies too. Which will make your meals that much more nutritious, but any variety of cauliflower will work!
For roasting, be generous when coating the cauliflower with fat or oil. I used Epic’s Duck Fat for this batch – which was truly delicious, but ghee or butter will also imbue the florets with a wonderful flavor while protecting them from getting dried out.
Avocado oil is a healthy plant based choice that won’t effect the flavor of the vegetable. Because of the strong flavor I don’t recommend using coconut oil for this recipe, but if you have ethically sourced palm oil that’s another good plant based option for high heat cooking. Whatever you do, don’t coat the florets with olive oil. The heat will render this precious oil carcinogenic.
The Pine Nuts
These can be added in raw or lightly toasted for richer flavor. Simply heat the pan on medium, add the pine nuts and toast for about 3 minutes, tossing occasionally, until lightly browned.
The Balsamic & Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Be sure to use high quality, good tasting balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. This is good rule of thumb generally speaking, but with this salad in particular the flavor of the olive oil and balsamic can overpower the delicate flavors if either is off.
The single source organic olive oil and balsamic producer that I trust is Napa Valley’s Bariani family farm. You can get a set of both Bariani EVOO + Balsamic on Amazon for $40. You won’t regret it!