If you're convinced you have to wait until spring to satisfy your salad cravings, think again. John Little, the chef at The Pullman in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, hits plenty of high notes in his hearty roasted-cauliflower salad. First tossed with browned butter and honey, then oven-roasted, the florets are packed with flavor. Little then uses an even bolder hand, adding a piquant, pepper-studded relish, tossing in arugula and dousing it all with a bright lemon vinaigrette. Topped with crumbled chèvre, this salad doesn't adhere to the standards of its lightly dressed counterparts. But it packs a punch deserving of the winter-salad hall of fame.
Cauliflower Salad with Pickled-Pepper Relish and Lemon Vinaigrette
Adapted from John Little, The Pullman, Glenwood Springs, CO
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 40 minutes
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 large head cauliflower, cut into medium florets
1 tablespoon honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 jalapeño or banana pepper--halved, seeded and finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1½ tablespoons granulated sugar
½ teaspoon yellow mustard seeds
½ teaspoon celery seeds
Pinch ground turmeric
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
Zest and juice of ½ medium lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh thyme leaves
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¾ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 cups arugula
4 ounces fresh chèvre, crumbled (about ½ cup)
1. Preheat the oven to 425°. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook, swirling often, until the butter is deep brown, and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and strain the brown butter through a fine-mesh strainer into a small bowl.
2. On a baking sheet, toss the cauliflower with the brown butter, honey, salt and pepper and place in the oven. Roast until golden brown and tender, about 20 minutes. When the cauliflower is cool, place in a large bowl and set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan set over medium-low heat, combine the onion, jalapeño, red pepper, apple cider vinegar, sugar, mustard seeds, celery seeds and turmeric. Season with salt and bring to a simmer. Cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables are tender and the mixture is dry, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside to cool.
4. Make the vinaigrette: In a medium bowl, whisk together the shallot, Champagne vinegar, lemon zest and juice, thyme, mustard, salt and pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is thick and creamy. Pour the vinaigrette over the cauliflower, add the arugula and reserved pepper relish and toss to combine.
5. To serve, divide the salad among four plates and top with the crumbled chèvre.