When my mom is away and my dad is working long hours, the apartment tends to delve into a sad state of bachelordom. I know, because I’ve dropped by on occasion to pick up this or that from my childhood bedroom, and whenever I’m home, mom or no mom, I always open the fridge to see if there are any interesting nibbles to be had. But when mom is away, there are no homemade nibbles, or really anything that you would want to nibble on.
In early October, mom was away, so I decided to come uptown and have a Sunday night dinner with dad. I arrived early and the apartment situation was worse than ever. The bed was unmade, blinds still in blackout mode. There were days of newspapers strewn across the dining room table. The sink was overflowing with oatmeal-crusted pots and mugs. And the only semi-edible things in the fridge were a few containers of days-old takeout containers. I did not venture a nibble.
What I did do was head right back out the door to the market. A home-cooked meal was in order, perhaps just as a motivating factor to clear the table and sink. I always feel gross whenever I eat out or order in too much – no matter what it is, the fact of not knowing exactly what it is, makes me feel unhealthy, even if the alternative is fatty in nature. So I picked up lots of veggies and some tofu. I roasted the cauliflower and fennel, sliced up radicchio and endive, and made a lemon-caper dressing, since nothing makes my dad happier these days than capers.
The dish that resulted was a perfect hardy winter salad that leaves you feeling satisfied, but still healthy. It also left us with lots of leftovers. And since I know what goes down in that fridge when there are no women around to monitor it, I decided to take them home with me.
Healthfulness aside, this salad also makes for a very elegant appetizer or side dish for a holiday meal. You just might find it on my catering menu sometime soon…
Roasted Cauliflower and Fennel Salad with Endive and Radicchio
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the cauliflower into small florets, removing any thick, tough stems. Toss the cauliflower together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt in a large mixing bowl. Arrange on one of the baking sheets in an even layer, cut sides of the florets down. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until crispy and caramelized.
Meanwhile, cut the fennel bulb in halve lengthwise. Slice each halve into thin wedges, lengthwise. Arrange the fennel in an even layer on the second baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until crispy and caramelized.
Toss the warm roasted vegetables together with the endive, radicchio, and the vinaigrette in a medium mixing bowl. Serve family-style on a big platter, or plate individually for a hardy main course salad.