There isn’t really a story to tell about this dish. I unceremoniously found this recipe while flipping through Food Network Magazine a few weeks ago, made it for lunch one day, and didn’t really love it. I’m really selling it aren’t I? But even though there were parts of it that seemed off, these are the type of flavors that I absolutely love, so I refused to give up on it and knew it only needed a few changes to be spectacular: more spice, more vinegar, and a few adjustments for better texture.
The recipe was in one of those tear-out booklets that FNM seems to have in most of their issues. The tear-outs normally contain a ton of really short recipes that may work better as tweak-able ideas than recipes to follow exactly. Sorry FNM – we can still be friends and I still enjoy your magazine, but a lot of these seem a bit thrown together. The original recipe calls for the cauliflower to be roasted with paprika, then mixed with uncooked chickpeas, parsley, piquillo peppers, and sherry vinegar. Instead, I fried the cauliflower, roasted the chickpeas, and added olives. I can’t get behind throwing uncooked chickpeas into just about anything, and frying makes everything better. This was actually the first time I’ve roasted chickpeas and I’ll definitely be doing it again soon.
Making these few changes added a lot more flavor to this dish overall. The result was delicious and it’s actually an extremely versatile dish that I think can work in a variety of ways. As a main on its own, or topped with a runny egg also sounds great. It would be wonderful on crostini with a small ball of Burrata, and I’m certain (though I haven’t tested this) it would be excellent with some small bits of smoky Spanish chorizo and toasted pine nuts mixed in.
And actually I wish I had done that last bit for this version. I think I’m off to buy some chorizo…
Fried Cauliflower Salad with Crispy Chickpeas and Olives
Adapted from and Inspired by Food Network Magazine ( I can’t find a link to it online. If I find one later, I’ll be sure to add it here!)
The original recipe calls for Spanish Smoked Paprika, which is great here. I used half-sharp because I ran out of smoked, and either works quite well. I would also avoid canned olives.
For the Chickpeas:
One 14 oz can of chickpeas
1.5 teaspoons of half-sharp paprika
1/2-3/4 teaspoon of salt
4-5 coarse grinds of pepper
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Preheat the oven to 400F. Thoroughly rinse and drain the chickpeas, then combine all the ingredients together in a small bowl and mix. Spread onto a baking sheet in one layer and roast at 400F for 30 minutes. When they’re done, they should be firm and have a bit of chew, but not so hard you can’t bite down on them.
For the Cauliflower Salad:
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2lbs cauliflower florets
3-4 fat cloves of garlic, well minced
1/2 cup of pimento stuffed green olives
½ cup fresh chopped parsley
3 tablespoons of olive brine (from the jar of olives)
3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
Olive oil to drizzle and salt and pepper to taste
While the chickpeas cook, chop the cauliflower into smaller florets if you have heads of cauliflower or if your florets are giant. Finely mince the garlic cloves, olives, and the fresh parsley and set aside.
Preheat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the cauliflower (if you have too much to add at once, work in batches so you don’t crowd the pan). Stir the cauliflower into the oil and add a pinch of salt. Now leave the florets alone for a good 4 to 5 minutes so they can develop a bit of color, then stir them up again and turn them over to the uncooked sides and cook them for 3-4 more minutes until they are substantially brown on all sides.
If the pan is a little dry at this point, add a little more olive oil. When the florets have shrunk down a bit and are browned on all sides, add the garlic cloves and stir for one minute (to keep from burning), then remove the pan from the heat and let it cool for a few minutes.
Your chickpeas should now be just about done. Remove them from the oven and let them cool for a minute. Combine the cauliflower mixture, the chickpeas, and all remaining ingredients (olives, parsley, olive brine, and vinegar) into a large bowl. Taste for salt and drizzle with a little extra oil if it seems to need it. I didn’t add any more salt at this point, though it may need a bit more salt and pepper.