Cauliflower replaced kale as the darling of trendy vegetables awhile ago, but it’s still going strong at my house. What’s not to love about a healthy vegetable that is easy to cook and can be seasoned in countless ways? Admittedly though, roasting is the only way I cook cauliflower, most likely because as a kid it was served to me steamed or boiled with the texture and flavor beaten out it. Precisely why the trend of roasting vegetables shed an entire new light on it. And I for one am thankful for that.
As the cook, roasted cauliflower is like a dependable, easy going friend. Once cut into “florets” (as the little tree tops are called) it can be lightly tossed in olive oil, seasoned and left to sit on a roasting pan until you’re ready to pop it in the oven. Whether it’s cooked just until soft, a little crunchy or slightly overdone it is still very likable. Best of all, it can sit around waiting for you and not suffer as much as many vegetables would. This is precisely why I like using roasted cauliflower in a salad.
Peppery flavored arugula, crunchy cooked farro, roasted almonds and sweet tiny black dried currants team up with roasted caramelized cauliflower in this salad that can stand on its own as a main dish or be served as a side. You might be tempted to leave out the currants thinking “ah what do they really add being so tiny and all” – but don’t! They add just the right amount of sweet to all the savory ingredients.
And the lemony vinaigrette made with fresh lemon juice and zest and a touch of honey is worth the few minutes it takes to whisk it together and should not be missed as what ties all the ingredients together. I wrote this recipe using the option of goat cheese, sheep’s milk feta or Manchego cheese because of the many people in my life who are avoiding cow dairy products. I have also made this salad many times and not added cheese.
- Lemon vinaigrette (below)
- 1 medium size head cauliflower (about 5-6 cups florets)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 5 ounces arugula (or 12 cups lightly packed)
- 1 cup cooked farro (see notes)
- ½ cup toasted sliced almonds or chopped whole almonds
- ½ cup currants
- 1 cup crumbled goat cheese, feta or grated Manchego cheese
- Lemon vinaigrette: whisk together: 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, ½ cup olive oil and kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove the leaves and core from the cauliflower and cut into 1 to 1-1/2 inch florets. Toss with olive oil then spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with salt. Roast until cauliflower is lightly browned and soft but still a little crisp, turning once, about 25 to 30 minutes. Allow cooling to room temperature.
- In a large bowl, toss arugula with lemon vinaigrette. Add farro, almonds, currants, cheese and cooled roasted cauliflower and toss again.
To cook farro yourself, rinse ½ cup farro in a fine meshed strainer then combine with 1-1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan; bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook until tender but still with a little crunch, about 25 to 30 minutes. Drain well and spread out on a basking sheet to cool to room temperature. Farro can be cooked ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator several days.