Seriously Simple: Cauliflower replaces potato in this French-style summer salad

Seriously Simple: Cauliflower Replaces Potato In This French Style Summer Salad
Diane Rossen Worthington/TNS

Roasting the florets until they are golden and slightly sweet creates the foundation for this salad.

<p>Roasting the florets until they are golden and slightly sweet creates the foundation for this salad.</p>

Diane Rossen Worthington/TNS

Roasting the florets until they are golden and slightly sweet creates the foundation for this salad.

I am always surprised when a vegetable that so many disliked is suddenly one of the most important ingredients in dishes on restaurant menus across the country. Cauliflower became the vegetable “darling” in the culinary world a few years ago. It started with roasted cauliflower steaks, roasted cauliflower florets and, of course, cauliflower rice.

When I grew up, cauliflower was boiled and served as is. Thank goodness chefs started roasting and grilling this vegetable. Each of these techniques brings out its caramelized rich flavor. And, remember, you can also use these roasted golden cauliflower gems as an add-in to tacos, pita pockets and salads or as a snack. Here, cauliflower replaces potatoes in a lively summer salad.

Roasting the florets until they are golden and slightly sweet creates the foundation for this salad. Make sure to cut the cauliflower into small, even-sized florets. The contrasting sweet sun-dried tomatoes and briny olives add a zesty tang. Make sure to use sun-dried tomatoes in oil for best texture and flavor. You can use whatever olives you prefer here, but check to make sure they are pitted.

The dressing is a classic vinaigrette with the added creaminess of plain Greek yogurt. Finally, the chopped fresh herbs add a garden freshness.

You can serve this as a side dish to most grilled entrees or on a buffet of different salads. This salad may surprise your guests when they wonder how cauliflower can taste as good as potatoes. A chilled rose would be a lovely beverage accompaniment.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad Nicoise

Serves 4

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted olives
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes in oil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Italian parsley
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped basil
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped chives

For the dressing:

  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces and transfer to the sheet pan. Drizzle the olive oil over the florets, and toss until evenly coated. Season with salt and pepper.

3. Roast the cauliflower for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing once to evenly brown, or until just cooked through and golden brown. Remove from oven and let come to room temperature.

4. While cauliflower is roasting, make the dressing: Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until completely blended. Taste for seasoning.

5. In a serving bowl combine the cooled cauliflower, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, basil and chives. Drizzle enough of the dressing over the ingredients and mix until nicely coated. Taste for seasoning. Chill in the refrigerator. When chilled, serve.

Recipe note: If you have any dressing leftover, refrigerate until using since it includes yogurt.

(Diane Rossen Worthington is an authority on new American cooking. She is the author of 18 cookbooks, including “Seriously Simple Parties,” and a James Beard Award-winning radio show host. You can contact her at www.seriouslysimple.com.)