While we sometimes
bitch and moan whine about winter vegetables this time of year, we do enjoy them quite a bit. It just takes a little more work to get the best out of them, and being as lazy as the next guy, we prefer more flavor and less work. In summer we put most fresh veggies on a plate with some olive oil and salt, or give them a quick sauté and voilà! Perfection (well, at least a good dish). In winter, we break out our thinking caps and some cookbooks and get to work. So when Carolyn brought home some purple broccoli and broccoflower (or romanesco, depending on appearance), we got off our butts motivated and made this salad. And it turned out well enough to make the blog, and become a regular dish here at the farm.
This salad combines blanched cauliflower and broccoli with sharp pecorino cheese, crisp apples, hazelnuts and bacon (optional) with a classic vinaigrette. Our goal was to build a dish that covers multiple flavors and textures but still highlights the inherent sweetness and crunch of the vegetables. The broccoli and cauliflower still lead, but the cheese and bacon add salt and umami, the apples acidity and crunch and the hazelnuts add nutty and slightly bitter undertones. The vinaigrette brings it all together. It is a very pleasant bite and will even get kids to eat their broccoli (we tested it, it worked).
And the cool thing about this salad is that you can interchange almost any variety of broccoli or cauliflower. So if you have purple broccoli, broccoflower, romanesco or orange cauliflower, they will all work. And if you just want either broccoli or cauliflower, that works too, but we do suggest a combination as they play well together. If you get lucky at the market you can make this salad with a full range of colors, it will be beautiful and a good dish for entertaining. And all you need to do is chop and boil water, so it is an easy dish.