Roasted Cauliflower, Red Pepper, and Walnut Salad

Sunny spring days cry out for salads. 

On Monday I planned to make my favorite raw cauliflower salad with lemon juice, roasted almonds, and parsley - fresh and crunchy and perfect for a sunny spring day. Then the red bell peppers caught my eye, and they were on sale, so I thought I would add a little color to the mix. When dinner time rolled around, the cauliflower in the bottom of our fridge looked less than stellar, so I decided to roast the sad little brassica to hide its flaws and bring out its sweetness. 

Roasted peppers will keep for a few days in a sealed container in the fridge, so why not buy a few when the season and price are right? Store them in a jar with a drizzle of olive oil, and add them to a salad with some feta cheese crumbles and fresh herbs.

No walnuts? Substitute pecans, cashews, or toasted & skinned hazelnuts.

Roasted Cauliflower & Red Pepper Salad

1 head cauliflower
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1 bunch flat leaf parsley
juice of 1 large lemon

1. Preheat oven to 475F and place a rack in the upper third of the oven.

2. Line a sheet pan with parchment to avoid cleaning all the burnt bits off the pan later. It’s fine to skip this. If you use parchment, use the same sheet for both the pepper and the cauliflower. Any charred bits from the peppers will add more flavor to the cauliflower.

3. Cut the red bell pepper in half through the stem and discard the seeds and stem. Place it on the prepared sheet pan and roast for about 15 minutes, until the skin is blistered all over and starting to blacken. Place the pepper in a heat-proof bowl and cover. Let stand 5 minutes to steam. Peel and discard the skin using your fingers or a knife. It should come off easily. Dice the roasted pepper flesh and set aside to cool to room temperature.

4. Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized florets and toss with the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place on the sheet pan recently vacated by the pepper and roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until it is soft and speckled with golden brown. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In cooler weather, I set the whole pan in the cockpit, but you can refrigerate it if you have space.

5. Pick the leaves from the parsley and discard the stems (or save them for your stock pot).

6. Combine the parsley leaves, roasted pepper, walnuts, and lemon juice in a large bowl. Squeeze the lemon over the mixture and toss, then add the cauliflower and toss again.

7. Taste for salt & pepper.

8. Serve at room temperature and refrigerate any leftovers.

Gratuitous nudi! Giant nudibranch (Dendronotus iris) and giant acorn barnacle (Balanus nubilus)


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