The week after I gave birth to my son, my dear friend Becky brought us dinner for 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 and it’s always a hit.
I’ve been thinking about trying a version using lightly cooked “al dente” cauliflower to stand in for the orzo for awhile now. The flavors of the salad are Mediterranean based (Balsamic vinegar, fresh basil, parmesan cheese, sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, etc…), and I hoped that 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,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 really 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!
- 2 cups of raw cauliflower, chopped
- ½ cup radicchio, chopped
- ½ cup artichoke hearts, chopped
- ⅓ cup fresh basil, chopped
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan
- 3 Tbsp sundried tomatoes, chopped
- 3 Tbsp kalamata olives, chopped
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 3 Tbsp 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 the cauliflower cool while you prep the other ingredients.
- Combine the radicchio, artichoke hearts, basil, parmesan, sundried tomatoes, olives, and garlic in a medium bowl.
- 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.
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.
If you use the best quality ingredients you can get for this salad it will make a huge difference in the flavor.
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients – I promise it’s worth it!