Inspired by A Few Reservations‘ description of a spicy cauliflower dish that was part of a dinner at Delfina Pizzeria, I have been experimenting with roasted cauliflower salads over the last few weeks.
I forgot to take pictures, but managed to remember how I made the best of the experiments. The cauliflower becomes sweeter and more interesting during the roasting, and mixing it with assertive ingredients like garlic, lemon and capers creates wonderful contrasts. A crunchy element like roasted almond might make the salad even better.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Slice the cauliflower into bite-size pieces (about the size of an unshelled walnut). It is important to slice the vegetable so as to provide flat surfaces that will brown during the roasting. Toss with oil, sprinkle with salt, then arrange on a baking sheet. Roast in a 400 F (or hotter) oven until the cauliflower is tender and brown in places, turning once or twice so that each side touches the hot metal pan for some time. Set aside to cool while you make the dressing. You could steam the cauliflower in a pinch, but roasting brings out a sweetness and complexity that I enjoy.
Roughly chop a clove of garlic (or more) and place in a mortar along with some salt. Use the pestle to fully crush the garlic into a paste. Pour in some lemon juice, a bit of Dijon mustard, and stir to combine. Wisk in olive oil (at least a 1-to-1 ratio).
Combine the dressing, the cauliflower, some capers, and herbs (parsley would be a good one).
Serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.