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 . . .

This recipe is a riff on Aunt Cindy’s Artichoke, Edamame and Asparagus salad.  She had raved about that salad to me the week before I was having friends over for a cookout.  It occurred to me that this would be a great basis for a pasta salad, and I just went crazy from there making adaptations.  Like the A.E.A. salad this is based on, it was such a hit that it’s been made for more than one recent event.  Thanks to niece Sarah for suggesting the cherry tomatoes.  We served this with grilled chicken and Spring Farmer’s Mkt Potato Salad, which made for a great summer meal.

The Dressing

3 tablespoons EV Olive Oil

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced

Juice of 1-2 cloves of garlic, using a garlic press

Salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in the bottom of a large salad bowl.  Set aside at room temperature.

The Salad

1 can or jar of artichoke hearts, drained (I like the ones with stems from Trader Joe’s)

1 pound asparagus, tough ends removed

1 lemon, thinly sliced crosswise

1/2-2/3 pound small dried pasta shapes

2 pints cherry tomatoes (I used the multi-colored ones from Trader Joe’s), cut in half

1/2-3/4 cup fresh mint, chopped

1/2-3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 425° and place the top rack one down from the top of the oven.   Pat the artichokes and asparagus dry.  Line a cookie sheet or broiler pan bottom with foil and cover lightly in EV olive oil.  Place the asparagus, artichokes and thinly sliced lemon on the foil and turn to coat all items with a little olive oil.  Place the pan in the pre-heated oven and roast for 7-10 minutes until done.  The asparagus does not need to be turned, but you will want to turn the artichokes and lemon slices a couple of times.  I found that the artichoke hearts and lemon could go longer, so I removed the asparagus after 7 minutes and placed the pan back in the oven for about 5 minutes more.

Cut the cooked asparagus into 2-inch lengths and the artichoke hearts into small pieces.  Cut the roasted lemon into small dice.  Add these ingredients to the dressing in the salad bowl.

In the meantime, cook the pasta al dente according to package directions.  Drain and let cool.  NOTE:  I did not like the shells and used spirals the next time I made this – much preferred!  Add the cooled pasta to the bowl and toss to thoroughly blend and coat everything with the dressing.  Add the cherry tomatoes to the salad and stir to blend.  Lastly, add the mint and basil, stir to blend.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Let sit at room temperature to blend the flavors for at least 30 minutes.