My favorite way to eat cauliflower is simply mashed with potatoes and butter. Close behind would be cauliflower in a salad with black olives, tomatoes and a zesty vinaigrette. This Mediterranean chopped salad recipe was good but I had to do a few substitutions and tweaks. I added carrots and subbed orzo for Israeli couscous. I omitted the feta as I didn’t have any on hand.
We hadn’t had any Mediterranean salad yet this year. It’s one of our favorite summer dishes, pairing so well with grilled meats. I was bummed we were out of Kalamata olives and feta but wasn’t bummed enough to drag myself to the grocery store to buy them. I guessed that the vinaigrette would give us enough of an acid touch so that we wouldn’t notice the Kalamata olives were missing.
I cut up the cauliflower and cooked it in salted water until it was tender but not to the point of falling apart. I drained it and let it cool.
I also cooked the sliced carrots in salted water until they were fork tender then drained and cooled them as well. I could have cooked them together but I wasn’t sure if they’d cook at the same speed. I also didn’t want the cauliflower to end up orange.
In a third saucepan (this salad created a pile of dirty pots and bowls but was worth it!) I boiled a couple of cups of orzo. I used the orzo that’s shaped like rice. Again I set it aside and let it cool.
While my cauliflower, carrots and orzo cooked I chopped the green onions and cut up the cherry tomatoes and put them into a bowl. I measured the seasonings into the bowl as well. There are a lot of seasonings in this salad! I zested the lemon and added the lemon juice to the bowl along with the honey.
In a separate bowl I measured the olive oil and vinegar and whisked well to emulsify. I wasn’t reading the directions of the recipe I was adapting, and here is where I correct my mistake. I think I should have added the seasonings and honey to the oil and vinegar before whisking. It would have hydrated them faster and made a cleaner vinaigrette. So I did make that change in the recipe below.
I added the cooled cauliflower, carrots and orzo to my bowl and stirred well. The salad was certainly colorful! I placed it in a container with a lid and refrigerated it overnight to allow the flavors to all mix and meld. With all those seasonings I wanted them to come to life!
The next day we had the salad with grilled chicken and were totally charmed by the flavors. It’s like the cauliflower was meant to be in the salad. It comes close to being pickled cauliflower, glorified by the carrots, orzo and tomatoes.
Although it wasn’t a quick fix salad, it was one that was very satisfying and lasted a week in the fridge.
Mediterranean Chopped Salad
A cauliflower salad with tangy Mediterranean flavors.
- 1 head of cauliflower; cut into 1″ pieces and cooked to barely fork tender, cooled
- 3 cups carrots; sliced and cooked to fork tender, cooled
- 2 cups orzo; cooked and cooled
- 1/3 cup green onion; chopped
- 2 medium cans sliced black olives (or one can black olives and one jar Kalamata olives)
- 2 cups grape tomatoes; halved
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic; minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 4 teaspoons honey
- crumbled Feta (optional)
In a large bowl add cooled cauliflower, carrots and orzo. Add green onion, olives and tomatoes.
In a separate bowl add rest of ingredients and whisk until emulsified. Add to salad and stir well.
Refrigerate in a covered container overnight for best results.
Serve garnished with crumbled feta if desired.
Will last for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Adapted from The Café Sucre Farine