Although you can enjoy this salad at any time of year, I find that its refreshing crunch is especially appetizing in fall and winter, when cauliflower is at its best in the farmers' markets. It's a welcome counterpoint to the other rich, stick-to-your-ribs sides that normally adorn the Thanksgiving table, and also to the hearty stews and braises that we tend to eat in colder months. (Recipe from The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, Chronicle Books, 2013.)
- 1 medium head cauliflower, or 3 smallish heads of white, green and purple cauliflower (about 1 lb), trimmed and cut into florets
- 1 large rib celery, sliced on the bias
- 1 cup coarsely chopped pitted olives (I use a mix of green and purple)
- 1 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup diced red onion
- 2 tbsp coarsely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 fresh chile pepper, very hot or mildly hot, your preference, minced
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp fine sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 to 4 oz gorgonzola piccante (also known as mountain gorgonzola), crumbled
Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan and fill the pan with water up to but not touching the bottom of the basket. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Arrange the cauliflower in the steamer basket, cover, and steam until just tender, 4 to 5 minutes.
Transfer the cauliflower to a large bowl. Add the celery, olives, parsley, garlic, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and chile pepper and toss gently but thoroughly. Sprinkle the lemon zest and lemon juice over the salad. Season with the salt and toss again. Drizzle in the olive oil, starting with 1/4 cup and adding more as you like (I like). Cover the salad and let it marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate until chilled if you prefer it cold. Right before serving, fold in the crumbled gorgonzola.
NOTE Any or all of the following would make good additions to the salad: sliced carrots, sliced fennel bulb, roasted bell peppers, and diced salami.