Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Cauliflower salad with crunchy walnuts and sweet grapes

Joe Yonan

THE WASHINGTON POST – 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 refrigerator.

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 Trip, it’s the combination of olive oil with juicy, sweet-tart grapes that does the trick.

Gleeson’s book, beautifully illustrated with her own watercolours 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 wrote.

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 colour and texture.

Like any salad, it would also take well to customising: 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

Four servings

This has the elements of curried chicken salad, in a lighter, plant-forward version, with a base of roasted cauliflower enlivened by juicy grapes and crunchy walnuts. Feel free to substitute other nuts or fresh or dried fruit.

Storage Notes: Refrigerate for up to three days.

INGREDIENTS

– One large head (one-and-a-half pounds) cauliflower

– Three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

– Half teaspoon garlic powder

– Half teaspoon curry powder

– Half teaspoon fine salt, plus more to taste

– Quarter teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste

– Three-quarters cup (four ounces) red grapes, halved

– Half cup (two ounces) raw or toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped

– Two scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the centre of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit (220 degrees Celsius). Set a large, rimmed baking sheet 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 half-inch 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.

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