I’ve had this Cauliflower, Fennel, and White Bean Salad recipe printed out and in my recipe binder for, oh, looks like about four years now. I was inspired to finally make it because of the namesake salad at my favorite lunch place near the office: a mix of fennel, chickpeas, and olives with coriander leaves and a tangy dressing.
Next time I make it, I will absolutely skip the oil infusion step. Absolute waste of time and the cleaning of a pan. Maybe with a milder dressing it would have made a difference, but I honestly couldn’t taste any thyme in the finished dish.
I think a big part of the success of this salad is the fact that the vegetables are essentially quick-pickled, so they soften a little bit but still retain some crunch. Another important thing is to make sure to chop the cauliflower into pieces that are no larger than the beans you’re using; it helps ensure that you can get a little bit of everything in every bite. I doubled the beans, since the original proportions seemed like they’d make a giant bowl of cauliflower with a couple of beans, and I was looking for something more balanced. I absolutely adored this. It had a lot of flavor and a good mix of textures, was really filling, and is rather beautiful too, I think, with a range of creams and ecrus studded with dark purple and bright green.
Raw Winter Salad
adapted from The Kitchn
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced, including fronds if you have them
1 small head of cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 15 oz. cans canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ricotta salata, crumbled
Mix the lemon juice, zest, and fennel in a large bowl. Salt liberally and set aside while you prep the other ingredients. Add the cauliflower and vinegar to the fennel and mix, adding more vinegar if the mixture seems dry. Stir in the beans and olives, then drizzle with olive oil and stir. Add more oil if it seems to need it. Stir in the parsley and cheese. Let the salad sit for a few hours, covered, at room temperature, stirring occasionally.
It was also delicious the next day with a runny-yolked egg on top.