Can you dedicate a salad like you can a song?  If so, this one goes out to my friend Jill, who loves her veggies and appreciates pungent flavors (I have known her to knock back sun-dried tomatoes like you might a handful of raisins).  In this recipe, raw cauliflower stands up to a potent vinaigrette without losing its crunch, making a salad that keeps and travels well.  Great with a sandwich (think tuna or egg salad, or turkey and mild cheese) in a brown-bagged lunch, or for dinner with a simple roast salmon or gratin of greens and cheese.

Cauliflower salad with olives and sun-dried tomato vinaigrette

Yield:  A LOT, but you can easily halve the recipe.

For vinaigrette (adapted from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone):

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 tbsp. red wine vinegar

6 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped

1/4 to 1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

For salad:

1 large head cauliflower

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

1 handful black olives, pitted and thinly sliced

1 handful fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped

Make vinaigrette:

Combine shallots, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper, and vinegars in a mixing bowl and let sit 15 minutes.  In a separate, heat-proof bowl, combine sun-dried tomatoes and enough boiling water to cover and let sit until tomatoes are plumped and soft.

Drain tomatoes in a fine-meshed sieve, pressing with the back of a spoon to remove excess moisture.  Add tomatoes to vinegar mixture, then drizzle in 1/4 c. oil, whisking to emulsify.

Assemble salad:

While tomatoes steep, quarter and core cauliflower.  Break into large florets, then thinly slice (some cauliflowers are more crumbly than others —  this is fine).  Toss cauliflower with scallions, olives, parsley, and vinaigrette in a large mixing bowl.  Add an additional drizzle of olive oil or sprinkling of salt and pepper if necessary.  Serve at room temperature.

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