Nothing makes me feel more rabbit-like than a bowl of lettuce, poorly dressed and carelessly presented. Sadly, I could feed an entire colony of rabbits with all of the uninspiring salads I’ve been served. Their usual lack of nutrition makes me dislike them even more when offered as the ‘vegetarian option’. Cake is a vegetarian option.
I got particularly distressed when I had a long, hot Georgia summer of CSA boxes loaded with lettuce. This prompted a salad making frenzy that enabled me to grow out of my silly exasperation and embrace their raw, crunchy temperament. I still don’t order lettuce-y salads in restaurants but I make them a few times a week in the hopes of clearing out the fridge.
Making salads can be extremely rewarding once the craft of it gets into your bones. It’s a chance to paint with texture. Naturally you’d want to work with only local, seasonal, and fresh ingredients, but aside from the obvious factors, I think they are about as fun as anything improvisational gets.
This shaved cauliflower salad was inspired by Nigel Slater’s Fennel and Green Bean Salad in his epic vegetable book, Tender. I’ve made significant changes to the original, but I still liken this to his because I can’t stop putting green beans in my salad since. Also, I can’t live without cauliflower – when these cruciferous vegetables are shaved, they are subtle and delightful; a perfect backdrop for tomatoes, green beans, parsley, and toasted almonds.
2 c. shaved cauliflower
1 c. green beans, blanched for 3 mins and cooled in ice water
1. cherry tomatoes
1 c. loosely packed parsley leaves
1/4 c. toasted, sliced almonds
1 egg yolk
1 TB sherry vinegar
1 TB lemon juice
1 TB dijon mustard
1/2 c. olive oil
3 TB finely grated parmesan
+ Whisk dressing ingredients together well and toss half of the dressing with shaved cauliflower, blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, and parsley. Top with almonds. Drizzle additional dressing on top right before serving.