a clean-out-the-fridge salad
I spend a possibly unhealthy amount of time … oh you thought I was going to say scrolling TikTok and watching other people clean their apartments? I mean, yes, that too. But I was going to say debating whether one *needs* a recipe for something I like to make, such as a salad. Doesn’t everyone just grab random things that need to be used up and assemble them with a dressing? Yet my other favorite thing on social media is when something appears in my feed that I didn’t know I was craving and I spontaneously must stop what I’m doing and kick all of my existing cooking plans to the curb to make it. What if this is the one that provides this for you?
Thus, here is the salad I craved last week before hopping on a plane to Minneapolis. After lettuce has been so expensive, it felt timely to focus on one without leaves… until I saw the price of cauliflower. But the beauty of this kind of salad is that you needn’t feel overly tethered to these specific ingredients. This is merely a template for what I consider an excellent warm vegetable salad: a sturdy vegetable roasted until nearly scorched at the edges but still a little bite inside, so it doesn’t collapse into mush. Something salty and crunchy; here I’m using chopped salted pistachios but you could use another nut or sunflower seeds. Next it needs something complex like pickled or roasted onions; here I’m using segments of scallions because I have scallions more often in my fridge than I have almost anything else. A warm salad can handle an extra-zippy dressing, as the heat mutes it, so I’m using a whole lemon in mine, but to harmonize, I’ve also added bits of chopped dried dates (but other dried fruit would work too). Together this is perfect for me, and I hope it takes very few tweaks to be perfect for you too.
your favorite new recipes in 2022
the recipes you cooked the most in 2022 from the archives
book tour, book tour!
Smitten Kitchen Keepers, my third cookbook, has been out for exactly eight weeks today and nothing makes me happier than seeing how many of you are already cooking from it. The book tour continues this week with the 92nd Street Y (in NYC this evening!), then Austin, Houston, California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle, Vancouver, oh and I just added a March date in Columbus, Ohio! All book tour stops and ticketing details are on this page, and I keep it updated as we add new dates. I hope we get to finally hang out.
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Cauliflower Salad with Dates and Pistachios
- 1 large head of cauliflower (2 pounds or 905 grams)
- Olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 bundle (6 ounces or 170 grams) of scallions
- About 8 dried dates
- 1/2 cup shelled salted pistachios
- Juice of 1 medium lemon
Heat oven to 450°F and coat a large baking sheet well with olive oil, then sprinkle the pan with kosher salt and black pepper. Quarter your cauliflower, cut out the core, then tear the quarters into bite-sized chunks. Dice the core into smaller pieces. Place on prepared baking sheet and toss to coat in the oil, salt, and pepper.
Lop the greens off *half* your scallions and slice them thinly, setting them aside. Cut remaining whole and white half of scallions 1-to-2-inch segments. Clear a little space at the end of your cauliflower baking sheet and add the scallion segments to it. Season the pan with additional salt and pepper.
Roast for 10 minutes then remove tray from oven (leave oven on) and use tongs to remove just the charred scallion segments, placing them in a large bowl. Turn cauliflower pieces over for even browning and return it to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes, until cauliflower is deeply browned in many spots. Don’t fear the char — it will taste good, not burnt.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the pistachios. Pit your dates, if needed, and roughly chop. Make a vinaigrette with 3 tablespoons olive oil, the juice of one lemon, plus enough salt and pepper to season it very well. Whisk (or blend, if you are as obsessed with your electric frother as I am). We want a sharp lemon dressing here, it will get milder as it coats the warm ingrednets, but if it’s definitely too sharp for your taste, blend 1 additional tablespoon olive oil.
When cauliflower is done, add to bowl with charred scallions, along with dates, pistachios, and reserved scallion greens. Toss with dressing to taste (I use almost all of it), seasoning further if needed. Salad is good right away but it also keeps well at room temperature for a few hours. [Leftovers are great warmed in the microwave for just 10 to 20 seconds, just to take the coldest chill off it it.]