prepare your palate, also. this is a salad chockablock with textures and flavors. here is a bowl of crisp, leafy, juicy, tender, crunchy things to entertain your mouth and subtly sweet, tart, peppery, toasty, herbal, warmly spiced things to make you linger. if you know the work of yotam ottolenghi and sami tamimi it will come as no surprise they are the masterminds behind such an unexpected dish. the roasted cauliflower salad we've set out to prepare is but a thimbleful from the irresistble lineup in their historically important cookbook jerusalem.
like others in the book, this recipe merges the flavors of palestinian and israeli dishes into a unified, beautiful whole. while a cauliflower salad loaded with pomegranate, parsley and toasted hazelnuts is by no stretch a traditional dish, it is an expression of the authors' culinary imaginations where anything is possible.
what they present to us is a salad that may top the list of ultimate chilly weather salads, just the thing to make when the abundance of produce disappears but we still long to fill a big wooden bowl with stuff of the earth. like so many vegetables, cauliflower endures the heat of the oven with poise. once burnt in spots and starting to slump, it is joined with the other ingredients and a dressing quietly seductive with warm spices. is your oven on yet?
roasted cauliflower salad with pomegranate & hazelnuts
(serves 4 - 6)
2 heads cauliflower (about 3 pounds total), cored and cut or broken into small florets
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted and skins rubbed off as best as possible, then coarsely chopped
3/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, very coarsely chopped
2 large stalks celery, cut on a diagonal into very thin slivers
2/3 cup pomegranate arils (from one medium pomegranate)
preheat the oven to 425. gently toss the cauliflower with 5 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. spread the cauliflower out on two roasting pans. roast for 25 - 40 minutes, until parts of the cauliflower have turned golden brown. transfer the cauliflower to a large salad bowl to cool.
whisk the remaining olive oil, sherry vinegar, maple syrup, cinnamon, and allspice together. season with salt and pepper.
once the cauliflower is cool, add the hazelnuts, celery, pomegranate and parsley to the bowl. drizzle the dressing over and toss to combine. serve at room temperature.
* this salad was slightly adapted from yotam ottolenghi and sami tamimi in their book, jerusalem. find the book here.
* to roast hazelnuts, spread them out on a baking sheet and roast for 15 - 17 minutes at 325. once cool enough to handle rub the skins off using a clean kitchen towel.
* here is a great video tutorial on seeding a pomegranate. the trick is a large bowl of water.
* i may be a bit neurotic, but i find my oven roasts better with one, not two, pans in the oven. if you have some time, try roasting the cauliflower in two batches. i think it does make a difference.
* this salad is best the day it is made, but leftovers keep well refrigerated for 2 - 3 days if you can make it last that long. it need not be a starter salad. it is great as a side dish as it can be prepared hours ahead of time.