How do you like your salads: light as in chock-full of greens, or filling as in chock-full of pasta? I’m asking because to me, eating salads is a seasonal experience. While during the summer I usually gravitate toward less calorific lettuce-based offerings, when the cold weather kicks in I want nothing more than a bowl of hearty warm salad, brimming with all the carbs I can find. Since the days are still reasonably mild and the fall seems far and away, I think eating light is the way to go at the moment. Enter one of my latest creations, featuring purple cauliflower, red beans and chickpeas.
I developed this recipe by chance, following a shopping trip during which I found purple cauliflower on sale. It was not just any cauliflower, but organic cauliflower, grown by Amish farmers and sold at one of my favorite local stores. I wanted to treat this nutrient-packed cauliflower variety right, and the recipe development period which followed was truly a labor of love.
I decided to roast purple cauliflower and broccoli florets in the oven. I treated them simply, with splashes of extra virgin olive oil and sprinkles of salt and freshly ground black pepper. The key is to cut the florets very small as well as to halve them, so as to ensure quick cook time and a delicate and fun look.
In my opinion, when it comes to putting together an appetizing and eye-catching dish, nothing beats the vibrant colors of summer produce. Pack your salad with a mix of warm colors featuring plenty of highlights and contrasting tones and textures, and your dish is sure to be a success. For these reasons, here I decided to use a mix of butter lettuce and radicchio torn by hand as well as red bell pepper cut into small cubes. To give the salad body and extra fiber and protein content, I used canned red beans and chickpeas. I have recently started using red beans in salads, and I recommend you give them a try: being smaller and softer than kidney beans, these beans can make up an excellent addition to light dishes. I presume the possibilities are also endless when it comes to using them in comfort food applications – and that’s exactly what I’m going to be working on during the upcoming winter months 😉
I believe not much else is needed if you use quality ingredients in your salads to begin with: just a simple vinaigrette will do.
Being the cheeseaholic that I am, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity to add freshly grated parmesan. Cheese is optional, however – so leave it out if planning to serve this as a vegan dish.
My family loves this salad for its mix of flavors and textures, as well as its uplifting colors. The addition of pulses gives it an additional level of wholesome proteins while keeping it light and delicious – and perfect for this season. We’ve been eating purple cauliflower, red bean and chickpea salad for a few weeks now, and we’re not planning on stopping – so fall can wait a bit longer, don’t you think? 😉
Purple cauliflower, red bean and chickpea salad
- 1 1/2 cup small purple cauliflower florets, halved
- 2/3 cup small broccoli florets, halved
- 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
- 1 cup canned red beans, drained
- 1 cup red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
- 2 cups mix of butter lettuce and radicchio, torn by hand
- 1 cup freshly shaved parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp freshly shaved parmesan cheese (for decoration)
- 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil + extra, if necessary
- 1 tbsp + 1 1/4 tsp white wine vinegar
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350F. Place the cauliflower and broccoli florets in a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Pour 1/3 cup oil over the florets and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. "Massage" the florets with the oil to achieve uniform coverage. Cook for about 25 minutes or until lightly brown and soft.
- Take out of the oven and place in a large bowl. Add chickpeas, red beans, pepper, lettuce and radicchio, as well as parmesan. Mix until combined.
- In a small bowl make the vinaigrette by mixing the remaining oil, vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour the vinaigrette on top of the salad. Mix until homogeneous. Add more salt and pepper if necessary, and toss the salad a couple more times. Place about 2 tbsp extra parmesan on top. Put the salad in the refrigerator. Serve slightly chilled.