Weekly Winner: An Oddly Alluring Salad

It snowed yesterday.  April 15 in Chicago…. snow and bitterly cold.  Today: windy, sunny but still way too cold for the date on the calendar.  It’s ridiculous, is what it is.  And I’m over it.  I’m also over cold weather lunches — soups, stews, anything hot.  I want a salad but I also still require something to warm me up.

Roasted Cauliflower SaladAwhile ago I found this salad recipe in Chile Pepper Magazine (of all places) and found it intriguing.  Cauliflower and swiss cheese?  Really?  Yes, really.  It is amazing.  I have no idea why it was in Chile Pepper Magazine as it does not offer a modicum of spice, but I now know exactly why it will remain in my salad recipe file.  It works.  There are just a few things I added.  The original recipe has just an olive oil, salt and pepper dressing.  I added a splash of balsamic and I think the sweetness from that adds a lot.  Also the original recipe calls for just a very small amount of spinach on the plate with the cauliflower, cheese, nut mixture on top.  I wanted to make it more of a true salad and added much more spinach and some romaine I had left over.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Walnuts and Swiss Cheese

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 4 Tbsps extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 tsps kosher salt, divided
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 splash balsamic vinegar
  • 8 oz swiss cheese, cubed
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts
  • 4 cups baby spinach or any salad greens

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400. In a bowl, toss together the cauliflower, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Place cauliflower on baking sheet. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden, 30-35 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the remaining olive oil with the remaining salt and pepper and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with the cheese, nuts and warm cauliflower. Pour the oil mixture over the salad and toss until well coated.

Weekly Winner – Perfect Pita, Better Suited for Lunch

With the weather warming up (and getting downright hot here in Chicago), I’m definitely looking for lighter lunch options.  But I must admit, I do get tired of salads and inevitably wind up craving a sandwich.  What could be better than combining the two?  Enter my latest Weekly Winner:  in my opinion, the mis-named Crispy Breakfast Pita.  I got the recipe from the Food Network Magazine and except for the fact that it has an egg on it, am not sure why they felt it was best-suited for breakfast.  It makes a quite lovely midweek lunch.  Here it is:

Crispy Breakfast Pitas

Serves 6

Ingredients:

6 6-inch pita breads

Extra-virgin olive oil

6 large eggs

3/4 cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese

Grated zest of 1/2 large lemon

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach

8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto

Directions:

Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush each side of the pita breads with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and grill 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp. Remove from the grill and cool slightly.

In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes.

Combine the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add the arugula and toss until coated.

Spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Divide the prosciutto on top. Divide the arugula and mound on top of the prosciutto. Carefully place a fried egg on top of each pita. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and serve.