I have two important things to say:
First, I try to always give credit where it’s due, which obligates me to credit this amazing salad to Julia, head chef at Haven’s Kitchen, even though I wish I could say that I came up with this one on my own. A few Friday’s ago we were preparing food for a wedding rehearsal dinner, and while I was busy manning the deep fryer station – popping out zeppole’s, risotto fritters, and deep fried fingerlings to many hungry and happy diners – I noticed Julia making something amazing out of the corner of my eye. I wasn’t too sure, but I was pretty sure I saw all of my favorite major actors: beautifully roasted cauliflower florets, chopped parsley, toasted nuts, plumped up raisins, and farro, one of my more recent grain obsessions. After a few bites I knew I had to try and make some version of this salad, and I thought to myself, who better to make it for than my lovely mother, here on a visit from San Antonio?
Which brings me to my next important point: lunch with a fabulous lady!
Given my random work hours I was able to free up my Thursday and pull this together to have lunch with the leading lady in my life, my mama. She loves vegetables and fruits like me, so I stewed up some roasted butternut squash soup with roasted wild mushrooms (yes that’s right, it’s sitting in the gorgeous Staub cocotte that my sister Yasmin bought for me for Xmas), roasted mushrooms on the side, and of course this yummy salad for which I’m about to give you the recipe. And of course there is also champagne. With my mother there will always be champagne.
Although we were quite stuffed after our lunch (there may have been some rolling and laying) we were both satisfied and felt that the salad had one of those magical abilities to fill you up yet make you feel lighter at the same time.
The recipe is for two, which is inevitable because of the size of cauliflower heads. But it holds well for lunch or dinner the next day, and you can always make it to share with someone else, someone who is deserving of your amazing cooking!
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Walnuts, and Raisins – Makes 2 servings
- 3/4-cup farro
- water or vegetable broth (amount varies according to farro package instructions)
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- 1 small head cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1/2-cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3 tablespoons golden raisins, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes (you can also soak in tea if you want to get crazy)
- 2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh parsley (save a few stems to cook with faro)
- 1 lemon
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place faro in a small saucepan. Cover with water, and add bay leaf if using. Cook according to package instructions.
3. Meanwhile, remove cauliflower stalk and cut florets into small, 1/4-inch pieces (you want them to become roughly the same size as the farro).
4. Place cauliflower on a lined baking tray and toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Roast until cauliflower is golden brown, about 10-12 minutes, tossing once halfway through roasting.
5. Place walnuts in a small skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until just starting to brown and become fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Remove bay leaf from cooked farro (if there is excess water in pot, drain farro in strainer).
6. In a bowl, combine farro, cauliflower florets, raisins, parsley and walnuts. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice from one half over salad. Drizzle with remaining tablespoon olive oil, toss to combine, and season with salt and pepper. Share with somebody you love or save the rest for lunch the next day.