The week after I gave birth to my son, my dear friend Becky delivered us dinner when we came home from the hospital. One of the components was a delicious orzo based pasta salad from Epicurious.com called Orzo with Everything. Since she introduced me to it almost five years ago (Thanks Becky!), I’ve made it many times. So I have been thinking about trying a version using lightly cooked “al dente” cauliflower to stand in for the orzo. The flavors of the salad are Mediterranean based (Balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, etc…) and I thought they would be robust enough to mask any cauliflower flavor. The original recipe calls for radicchio which has a nice bite to it, but I subbed in red cabbage for mine because I couldn’t find any in my local grocery store. The cabbage worked, but if you can find the radicchio I recommend it! The original recipe also calls for toasted pine nuts which are a really tasty addition. I omitted them from my version simply because they are expensive and hard to find depending on where you live, and I wanted to see if it would still taste good without them. It does, but if you have them, toast some up and toss them in because they are awesome. Lastly, I added chopped artichoke hearts to it which added a nice flavor and texture. I can’t say it’s as good as the original, only because it’s hard to beat the chewiness and comfort food feel of the pasta, but the cauliflower worked well as a substitute. This is a truly delicious, flavor-packed side dish – and it’s hearty enough (especially with the pine nuts) to eat on it’s own for a light lunch. Hope you guys like it!
Makes eight 1/2 cup servings
2 cups of raw cauliflower, chopped
1/2 cup radicchio, chopped
1/2 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan
3 Tbl sundried tomatoes, chopped
3 Tbl kalamata olives, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbl balsamic vinegar
3 Tbl extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
First, cook your finely chopped cauliflower in the microwave for five minutes. Don’t add any liquid or seasoning to it, just spread it on a microwave safe dish and zap it. Let it cool while you prep the other ingredients. Add everything, but the olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to a medium bowl and toss to combine. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vinegar, then pour it over the salad. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Can be served room temperature or chilled – enjoy!
Notes: Use a decent quality extra virgin olive oil to get the best results. The artichoke hearts should be packed in water, not marinated in oil and seasonings. Also the sundried tomatoes I used were packed in oil so they were nice and soft – if you use the dehydrated ones, reconstitute in some warm water for 20 minutes before using them. Finally, use a shredded parmesan or asiago, not the granular grated stuff you get in the can. Use the best quality ingredients you can get for this salad and it will make all the difference in the world in the flavor. Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – it’s worth it!
Approximate nutrition info per serving: 102 calories, 8g fat, 4g net carbs, 3g protein