A lightly pickled vegetable salad that goes with everything. Eat alongside cold ham, cooked chicken or white fish, or with a big dollop of hummus, some cured meats and a lovely hard Italian cheese.
If you can find romanesco cauliflower, it looks beautiful in this salad. But regular cauliflower is just as delicious.
The boiling in various stages is, I grant you, a lot of work for a salad. But thinking of it instead as homemade antipasti will make you feel very competent and Italian.
Feeds 6 – 8
2 tbsp salt
1 head romanesco or cauliflower, cut into florets
350ml white wine vinegar
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 bell peppers, cut into thick slices
4 ribs celery, sliced
3 – 4 carrots, sliced into thin coins on the diagonal
1 cup green olives, pitted
2 tbsp capers
For the dressing:
1 tsp dried oregano leaves
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
To a large pot, add 2L of water and bring to the boil. Add the salt and cook the cauliflower florets for about 5 minutes, or until just tender. Remove the cauliflower florets with a slotted spoon and add to a bowl of ice water. When cool, drain the cauliflower in a colander and gently shake out the florets on a clean tea towel to get rid of some of the excess water.
To the pot, add the white wine vinegar, fennel seeds and garlic cloves. Bring the pot back to the boil and add the peppers, celery and carrots. Cook for 10 minutes; drain and add to a big bowl of ice water. When cool, drain in a colander and set aside.
Mix the cauliflower florets and cooked vegetables (with garlic cloves) in a very large bowl. Add the olives and capers. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over. Toss everything together with your hands. Serve straightaway, or pop in the fridge and keep on standby for up to 3 days.