Cauliflower, Smoky Quinoa, and Radicchio Salad

A few weeks ago, Noah texted asking if he should pick anything up for dinner on his way home. (Good boyfriend points!) I told him he should figure it out what he wanted to eat because he was on his own. I had my own plans.

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In matters of taste, Noah and I do not always agree. He dislikes squash, cauliflower, and broccoli. There is a list of things that upset his stomach, which includes raw cabbage, quinoa, and many beans. I hate chocolate ice cream and can’t eat pizza so he also has his own (possibly more legitimate) complaints. In any case, I now rule out many of my favorite foods when I plan dinner (except when I’m on a conversion mission) or try to load all my broccoli and cabbage eating into lunch.

On this night, however, I had an idea for a salad and was determined to make it. When Noah got home and saw what was getting tossed into my bowl he nodded and said, “Now I get it. That’s all your favorite foods.” You see, I had myself a salad of roasted cauliflower, smokey quinoa, and radicchio. I’d also tossed in pickled shallots, jalapeño peppers, mozzarella cheese, and toasted hazelnuts. It was creamy but not unhealthy, spicy and tangy. This is a complicated salad. It takes a while to make, but I thought it was worth it. Even though it contained so many of Noah’s least favorite foods, I caught him sneaking a couple of bites. So, maybe it was a conversion mission after all.

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Cauliflower, Smoky Quinoa, and Radicchio Salad 

The quinoa in this recipe comes from this Mark Bittman recipe for smoky quinoa crumbs. I used a half batch here, but you could use a whole batch and have something delicious to future salads. 

– 1/2 cup red quinoa

– Pinch of salt

– 1 tsp smoked paprika

– 2 heads cauliflower

– 1 large (or 2 small shallots)

– 2 small heads of radicchio

– 1 small jalapeño pepper

– 3/4 cup finely chopped or grated mozzarella

– 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts

– 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

– 1 teaspoon olive oil + more for roasting cauliflower

– 1/2 tsp sugar

* Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

* Start by preparing quinoa. Rinse quinoa thoroughly to get rid of bitter flavor. Put in small sauce pan and cover with an inch of water. Stir in a pinch of salt. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes. When quinoa is tender drain off any excess water and toss grains with smoked paprika. Spread quinoa thinly on a baking sheet and bake for 15-25 minutes, tossing once about half way through. When they are done the grains will be dry and crunchy. Remove from oven and let cool until ready to use.

* While quinoa boils, chop cauliflower into small florets. Spread on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and a little bit of salt. Bake for roughly 45 minutes until florets are brown but not burnt.

* While cauliflower and quinoa bake, pickle shallots. Slice shallots finely and put in a small shallow bowl. Toss with 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon olive oil, and a 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Find a dish or bowl that fits into the bowl you are using. Place on top of shallots and put a few heavy cans of on top of it. Press shallots for at least 30 minutes and until ready to use.

* Finely slice radicchio and chop jalapeño into tiny pieces (remove seeds first if you want your salad less spicy). Add radicchio, jalapeño, and mozzarella to a large salad bowl and set aside.

* Toast hazelnuts in a pan until they brown. Keep an eye on them and shake the pan frequently; they burn quick. Once brown, add hazelnuts to the salad bowl.

* When cauliflower and quinoa are done add to salad bowl and toss all the ingredients. You want the cheese to get a little melty from the heat of the cauliflower. Add shallots and pickling liquids.

* Taste. If the salad seems dry add another tablespoon red wine vinegar. Salt to taste.

 

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