I am having a little bit of a love affair with Bon Appetit as of late. I usually rotate between quite a few culinary magazines — everything from Food & Wine to Living to Lucky Peach. But I’ve been in a rut recently and it’s seems like every issue of Bon Appetit is chock full of recipes I want to try out.
The most recent issue was no exception. As soon as I saw the picture for their Warm Cauliflower with Herbed Barley Salad, I knew it was destined to be on my plate very soon. The salad consists of three main components, things I generally would not think to mix all together: cauliflower, butter beans and barley. But it sounded like something I would love, so I made it as a side dish for some seared pork chops early last week.
I lucked out of the first step (cooking the barley) because I happened to have some cooked farro on hand already. This sped up the cooking time considerably so if you already have a cooked grain left over, use it here. I’m sure brown rice, quinoa or wheatberries would all be equally at home.
The next step involves cooking the cauliflower, which I actually found fairly interesting. I adore cauliflower and most often I just eat it raw, though I love it roasted, and occasionally I’ll have it steamed. This preparation was a rather ingenious combination of searing and steaming, which gave the cauliflower the flavor of having been roasted with much less oil (win win!).
Start by cutting a whole head of cauliflower into florets. Heat up a pan to medium and add about 1 TB oil. Add the cauliflower and allow to cook until brown and crispy in spots. Stir occasionally and be careful not to burn it — mine got close a few times! I used a regular sauté pan, but the next time I might try out a non-stock just to see if that helps. Then add water, cover and steam until tender — this will only take a few minutes. Remove lid and let cauliflower “dry” a bit in the pan.
Now it won’t have quite the caramelization, crunch or the overall sweetness that roasted cauliflower does, but it will have loads of flavor, less fat and takes about half the time to cook. It’s really the next best thing, and I am totally going to be using this method a lot in the future. I’ve used it for carrots before, so I don’t know why it never occurred to me to try it with cauliflower!
While the cauliflower is cooking, whip up the vinaigrette, made with lemon, mustard, oil and a tablespoon of (probably unnecessary) mayonnaise. The rest of the recipe is easy. Open a can of gigante beans — butter or corona beans — and rinse thoroughly.
Put them in a large bowl with the farro and warm cauliflower. Add 1/4 cup minced parsley, a bit of tarragon and half of the dressing.
Dish up and top with some lemon zest, more minced parsley and a drizzle of the remaining dressing.
Basically this is a recipe that is great on many levels — it’s incredibly easy and inexpensive to make. It’s also light and makes the perfect side dish if you’re having a heavy dinner (yum pork chops!). But it’s also totally appropriate as an entree salad — add extra greens and you’re good to go.
While eating the leftovers, I did come up with a few changes…I’ll let you in on my secrets:
The vinaigrette recipe was a little unique in that it didn’t call for any shallots, onion or garlic. Madness! I went against my instincts and followed the recipe anyways. It was fine, perfectly acceptable, but the next day I macerated minced red onion in red wine vinegar and added that to the salad and it was a welcome addition. A sprinkle or two of chili flake was also added and, at the last minute, I grated some pecorino over the whole thing. It was divine!
But no matter if you make this salad your own, or eat it the way that BA instructs, I’m sure you’ll love it!