Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Roast Cauliflower and Arugula Salad with Bacon

What do you do when you know you are going to be traveling constantlyfor the next 2-3 weeks and (1) your fridge is full of random vegetables and (2) you know that due to traveling you will be eating burgers and chili on the mountain in California/Nevada, BBQ in Texas and other heavy meals, rather than salads and seafood?  If you're anything like me, you make random salads and/or random roast vegetables.  Or you get lazy and combine the two and top a bed of baby arugula with roast cauliflower.  And when you discover that you have some bacon left over from the Bacon Braised Cabbage you throw that in there too.  Sometimes my randomness works out and sometimes it just doesn't.  Luckily, this salad ended up working out really well.  There were a lot of textures and flavors that came together beautifully to make a nice salad.  Roasting the cauliflower in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes made it nice and nutty and sweet and the sweetness was further augmented by the shallots and a scant teaspoon of honey.  The crispy bacon added a hit of wonderful smoky, porky flavor, which made the salad feel warm and rich.  Then there was the hit of acidity from the red wine vinegar, the peppery flavor of the arugula and the butteriness of lightly toasted pine nuts.  It was a winner for me - fulfilling the dual goals of clearing out the fridge and providing me with a moderately healthy (it would have been much healthier had we omitted the bacon, but bacon makes everything better) meal.

Recipe after the jump!

Roast Cauliflower and Arugula Salad with Bacon

1 cauliflower, trimmed, cut into florets
2 tablespoons evoo, separated, plus additional to drizzle
4 slices bacon, cut into small pieces
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
4 cups arugula
1 shallot, finely chopped
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. 

Spread the cauliflower in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toss cauliflower with 1 tbsp evoo and s&p.  Bake for about 45-50 minutes, until browned and tender, stirring the cauliflower once halfway through cooking.

In a skillet on moderately high heat, saute the bacon for 5 minutes, stirring often, until brown and crispy.  Remove bacon from skillet with a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Remove the excess bacon fat from the pan, leaving about 1 tbsp behind.  Add 1 tbsp evoo.  Add the shallots, and saute until softened, about 1 minute.  Add cauliflower and toss to coat.  Add the honey and 2 tbsp red wine vinegar.  The mixture should be fairly moist.  Season with s&p.  Remove from heat.

Spoon the cauliflower mixture on top of the bed of arugula and garnish with pine nutsDrizzle lightly with evoo and serve.

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