The way this salad came together was a fluke, and sometimes the best recipes are like that. I had a made a meal of crispy cauliflower florets and a simple pile of romaine hearts with buttermilk-feta vinaigrette dripped over. After a few bites, I found myself combining the two in my mouth, the lightbulb went off.
the cold squeaky-clean texture of lightly dressed romaine with warm, crispy (slightly spicy) cauliflower is such a dynamic match. You'll love the way the flavors and textures meld. It reminds me of late-night college studying at the diner when I would order fries and a side salad, only this salad is nicer than bagged iceberg, and baked crispy cauliflower is dutifully healthier (and more sophisticated) than greasy fries.
"A few shavings of Pecorino is so yummy for its earthy, salty bite, but you could do feta crumbles or grated Parmesan also."
Note: Olive oil is extra-virgin.
ROMAINE HEARTS WITH CRISPY CAULIFLOWER
Ingredients: 8-10 romaine hearts, 1/4 cup shaved Pecorino Romano cheese, 1 head cauliflower florets, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1/2 cup panko, 1 tsp. sea salt, 1/2 tsp. pepper, 1 tsp. paprika, 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 2 tbsp. olive oil. For the Buttermilk-Feta Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup buttermilk, 2 oz. crumbled feta cheese, 1/2 tsp. minced garlic, 2 tbsp. white wine, 2 tbsp. olive oil, pinch of sea salt, 1/4 tsp. cracked pepper.
1. Preheat the oven to 425* and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Put flour, panko, salt, pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and paprika into a gallon-sized zip-lock bag. Shake. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat well. Dribble over olive oil, seal bag and toss to coat once more.
3. Roast in the oven for 10 minutes, turn over, then roast 10 minutes longer. Or until browned and crispy. Remove to cool slightly.
4. Make Buttermilk-Feta Vinaigrette: Whisk together the buttermilk, garlic, white wine, olive oil, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in the feta, taste for seasoning.
5. Lay romaine hearts on each plate, then cauliflower on top. Dribble over the vinaigrette followed by Pecorino. A bit more pepper is a good idea.
Tip: If you want to make this gluten-free sub out the panko for almond flour.