Warm Cauliflower Salad with Farro, Butterbeans and HerbsAunt Suzy says . . . 

The most recent Bon Appetit is chock full of what look to be fabulous things to cook and bake, so I thought I’d better get started.  This recipe contains only a few ingredients and none of the usual suspects of garlic, onions or shallots so I was curious about the flavor profile of the finished dish.  I kept thinking “I should have added some garlic!” as I was cooking this, but am glad I didn’t – it is a WOW with many layers of flavor.  The added bonus is that it was a snap to make!  We served it with roasted chicken breasts and a green salad, but I can also see it as a first course or a vegetarian main dish.  An Italian Pinot Bianco was a perfect wine pairing.

1/2 cup pearled farro (or barley)

1 1/4 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

juice of half a lemon

5-6 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into florets

1 small can butter beans (or gigante or corona)

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

zest of 1 lemon

Cook the farro: Place farro in a saucepan with the water.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 or so minutes until water is absorbed.  Place in a large bowl to cool. Set aside.

Make the dressing: Whisk mayo, mustard, lemon juice and 4-5 tablespoons olive oil in a small bowl until emulsified.  Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cook the cauliflower:  Place 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the cauliflower when oil shimmers.  Cook for 10-12 minutes, uncovered, until browned in places, turning occasionally.  Add 2 tablespoons water, then cover and cook for 5-8 more minutes until the cauliflower is tender.  Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper.

Assemble the salad:  Turn the cauliflower, while still hot,  into the bowl with the farro.  Add the butter beans and stir to combine.  Add the dressing and stir to thoroughly blend.  Next add the parsley, oregano and lemon zest and toss to blend all ingredients.  Enjoy!

COOK’S NOTES:  I adapted the BA recipe in a few ways. The original recipe called for barley, but I had farro on hand so used that. I think it would be good with either and possibly brown rice.  I also used less mayo than called for and believe it could be made without it altogether.  Also called for was tarragon, which I didn’t have so I substituted fresh oregano – I’ve been looking for uses since our plant is doing really well in the house this winter. I found the canned butter beans locally at Whole Foods – it took some searching!

 

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Aunt Suzy says . . . .

I saw this recipe in Food & Wine this month and since it has fall vegetables paired with some of my favorite aromatics and ingredients, I thought I’d give it a try.  I thought it sounded good, but was delighted by how delicious it was – it way outstripped my expectations!  Of course, I made adaptations – I can’t help but tinker!  I thought this would be too difficult to eat with bucatini, so instead used a my favorite small pasta shape, fusilli bucati.  I think other small pasta shapes would be excellent, or you might want to try the bucatini of the original recipe.  (Actually, I think this would make a great side vegetable dish without the pasta.) You might be inclined to skip the toasted breadcrumbs, but I would advise against this.  They added both flavor and texture and, to me, really made the dish.  A bonus is that this took only about 30 minutes start to finish!  We served this with roasted salmon and an Italian Orvieto white wine.  I will definitely make this again!

Ingredients

The Bread Crumbs
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
The Pasta
3/4 pound small pasta shapes
1/2 cup reserved pasta cooking water
The Vegetable Mixture
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound cauliflower florets, cut in 1-inch pieces (about 4 cups)
3/4 pound brussels sprouts, halved or quartered if large (about 3 cups)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small onion, finely diced
2-3 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped rosemary
1-1/2 teaspoons chopped thyme
Finishing
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus more for serving

Directions

In a small skillet, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the bread crumbs and cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and transfer to a bowl and set aside.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the cooking water.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1/4 cup of the oil on medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add the cauliflower and brussels sprouts and season with salt and black pepper.  Cook over moderately high heat, stirring, until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup of the oil to the skillet along with the onion, garlic, crushed red pepper, rosemary and thyme; cook, stirring, until the onion is slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat until the cauliflower and sprouts are tender, about 3 more minutes. Keep warm.

Add the pasta and reserved cooking water to the vegetables and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until the water is nearly absorbed. Remove from the heat and stir in the 1/2 cup of grated cheese.  Serve the pasta in wide bowls, passing the bread crumbs and additional cheese at the table. (Alternatively, you can skip stirring the cheese into the pasta and add it instead to individual servings along with the bread crumbs.)