We first saw this winter white salad in Bon Appétit, where the description of fresh, lemony flavor with crisp winter vegetables earned it a place in our "to-try" recipe list. We made it this weekend, and it's already a favorite winter salad. The flavors come together in a crunchy, tender, tart, and oddly creamy combination. Here is our adapted recipe -- we think it might be a new favorite for you too.
I've never had a salad quite like this. It's crunchy and soft at the same time, with salty, creamy cheese and white beans. There's a fresh, sweet taste from the lemon zest and enough acidity from the vinegar to keep things interesting. It can stand alone as a meal, with those beans; I had a big bowl for lunch yesterday. And it's wonderfully healthy yet satisfying.
I adapted this recipe to make it easier to shop for and cook. The original recipe called for very precise measurements of lemon juice, zest, salt, and pepper. I found this frankly fussy and an impediment to putting the salad together quickly. I also changed the herbs and substituted fennel for endive.
Cauliflower, Fennel, and White Bean Winter Salad Adapted from Bon Appétit
1/3 cup olive oil 2 long sprigs fresh thyme 1 lemon 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar 1 small head of cauliflower 1 (15-ounce) can white beans, drained and rinsed (can substitute 1 1/2 cups cooked white beans) 1 fennel bulb Handful fresh chives Handful fresh parsley 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 3 ounces) Kosher salt Freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan. Using your thumb and forefinger, pinch the thyme sprigs and then slide them through your fingers to remove just the thyme leaves. Cook in the hot olive oil just for a few moments, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside.
Zest the lemon and set aside the zest. Juice the lemon and whisk the juice and vinegar together.
Chop or shred the cauliflower into bite-sized florets. Drain and rinse the beans. Chop and shave the fennel bulb using a mandoline or a chef's knife. Mince the chives and parsley. Combine cauliflower, beans, fennel, chives, parsley, and thyme oil in a large bowl and toss. Mix in cheese. Add lemon juice mixture and toss to coat. Season salad to taste with kosher salt and black pepper.