Monday, April 26, 2010

Butterbean and Cauliflower Salad

It is the last week of April and I have decided that, come what may, it is time for more salads. Don't care what the actual weather is like, in Feast with Bron world it is sunny and warm. Blue sky thinking. Which led me to plan Sunday dinner as cold roast pork with salads, which would then carry on as lunches through the week. I didn't buy potatoes at the market as I had no intention of having a back up plan, particularly one that involved roast potatoes. Or mash. Sheer force of will shall banish winter forever.

I bought a copy of the second St John cookbook last week as I adore the food there and I find the recipes in the first book work a treat. It's such a delight to browse - almost every recipe makes me want to make it and all of them make me want to eat them. The ideas are strong and the language a joy.

The one for bean and cauliflower salad caught my eye as it fulfilled my brief for Sunday and it sounded fabulous. It is also one I hadn't tried at the restaurant. Thoroughly new. It's a slow salad to make and all the better for it. The creamy butterbeans are a perfect foil to the crisp raw cauliflower and the silky threads of leek, the lot melded with a garlicky vinaigrette. Definite harbinger of summer.

Butter bean, leek and cauliflower salad

2 handfuls of butter beans
2 heads of garlic
1 happy head of cauliflower, taken apart into challenging bite-sized florets
4 leeks, sliced across at 5mm intervals, then thoroughly rinsed
a bunch of curly parsley finely chopped
a handful of extra fine capers

300ml extra virgin olive oil - it's a thirsty salad
juice of 1 juicy or 2 not so juicy lemons
6 cloves garlic, peeled and thoroughly crushed (this may seem a lot, but remember the dressing has to bring 'wayhay' to some very calm elements)
sea salt and black pepper

Soak the butter beans overnight in cold water, then drain and cook in clean water with the heads of garlic - this can take 2-3 hours - so that you have pillows of joy.

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together thoroughly, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Take the cauliflower and butter beans and liberally dress them, Toss and then leave overnight.

When it comes time to serve, just tease the leeks for a moment in some boiling salted water. The warmth of the leek, added to the cauliflower and butter beans, should awaken the slumbering salad. Once awake, it mayjneed some more dressing - take a view. Add the chopped parsley and a substantial handful of capers. Toss vigorous.y, being careful not to crush the butter beans, then serve.

Woke Sunday to the sound of heavy rain. This salad definitely helped make it sunny for us.


azelia said...

You know Cauliflower is a vegetable that I always avoid because the thought of it served boiled like I use to have as a child just makes me shudder but lately I've been starting to think about it again in salads and just seeing your idea of pairing it with butterbeans which i love just got me thinking....good idea...

bron said...

Azelia do think again about it - I love most things cauliflower except the boiled to mush disaster. This works really well because the cauliflower provides a lovely crisp crunch with the creamy beans and the silky leeks - it is a symphony of textures as well as flavours. Good depth of flavour too...