The makings of this tasty little salad came about when I was at the express supermarket near my work. In the fruit and vege section I spotted a beautiful sight. Sitting side-by-side were fresh heads of purple and green cauliflower. Sometimes I wonder how it may appear to anyone around me when I stop in front of an ingredient for something like ten seconds and ponder its use. I reckon it took less than ten seconds for me to grab one purple and one yellow cauliflower and drop them into my basket. My thoughts? It had to be a salad. Something raw. Something fresh. Something textural, flavourful and colourful.
The following day I arrive at work and Miss B, the health nut, happened to have brought in the ingredients for her daily salad for lunch. Believe me, this thing is mammoth and would feed a small village. A flash of yellow caught my eye. Sitting in a plastic bag was a head of yellow cauliflower. The first time I've ever seen one. This confirmed my salad recipe as I now had three types of cauliflower, thanks to acquiring a little chunk of the yellow variety.
The rest of the salad came about by influence of the flavours I was craving at that point in time. Some crunchy fresh baby fennel, slightly Japanese-y flavours in a soya bean paste-based dressing and some ribbons of cooked and cooled green tea noodles. I could have snap-blanched the florets of cauliflower, but with this I wanted to keep it honest and keep it raw. The flavours are earthy, punchy, aromatic and nourishing. Go with the regular white cauliflower if you can't get the coloured stuff and omit the fennel if you want to use something else. Soya beans would be good here, as would batons of pan-fried firm tofu. Later that day I even added some smoked trout to the mix, so go with what you're craving!
cauliflower, fennel + cha soba salad
- 1 tbsp red soya bean paste
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tsp vino cotto
- ¼ tsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp red chilli, finely chopped
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 bulb fennel, finely sliced
- 50 g cha soba (green tea noodles) cooked, drained & cooled
For the dressing, combine the soya bean paste, vinegar, vino cotto, sesame & olive oils and chilli. Set aside.
Place the cauliflower, fennel and noodles into a large mixing bowl. Toss to combine. Add the dressing and toss one more time. Serve immediately.