I have a bunny problem. You see, in late January, I moved from a busy shopping area to a sleepy Kansas neighborhood that I will henceforth refer to as Bunnyville. Spring is coming into full force here in Bunnyville—the grass is getting greener by the day and the trees are coming back to life in brilliant shades of pink, purple and yellow. The sun is shining. I feel like I’m living in a scene from Sleeping Beauty.
And the bunnies! They are everywhere. Cute cotton-tailed bunnies bounce through my backyard, sharing a seemingly symbiotic existence with the abundant neighborhood squirrels. I’ve seen as many as five in my yard at one time. So what’s the problem here, you ask? Well, the problem is that my sweet sidekick’s canine instincts switch into high gear every time she spots a bunny.
Cookie is fast. Fortunately, so far, the bunnies have been even faster. They bound across the yard to the nearest exit hole while Cookie chases after them like a rabid hound. I’m concerned that Cookie will catch up to a bunny one of these days. Then, I’ll have to confront the fact that my puppy dog is a coldblooded killer. Cue the “Circle of Life” theme song from The Lion King.
Another potential bunny issue? I want to grow a garden in my backyard this year. If those bunnies go after my greens and tomatoes, they won’t be so cute any more. I imagine them nibbling away on my lettuce, pausing to cackle in sheer delight.
My friend suggested that I buy a commercial blend of soil and bunny blood to keep them away, but bunny blood?! It sounds so barbaric, so Watership Down. Maybe I’m just a big sissy about all of this stuff. Maybe this explains why I don’t eat meat. Who knows.
For the record, there were no bunnies involved in the making of this salad. It’s definitely not “rabbit food,” either. It’s a hearty salad I’ve had in mind since last summer, after I encountered a roasted cauliflower and farro salad in La Jolla.
I just happened to be in San Diego at the same time as my parents. My friend and I met up with them for lunch at George’s, an unassuming restaurant with a faded, burgundy awning over the entrance. We walked inside to discover an incredible view—the restaurant is built into the side of a cove that overlooks a sparkling blue ocean. It all seemed surreal since I’m accustomed to greeting my parents at home in flat, landlocked, red dirt Oklahoma.
My friend and I were feeling a little rough after a late night out (I’m wayyy too old for tequila shots), but that cauliflower salad brought me back to life. When I recreated it at home, I added some sun-dried tomatoes and greens to my version and it turned out rather spectacularly.
I really love the combination of warm, garlicky farro with caramelized, roasted cauliflower and salty feta and olives. Feel free to change it up, though. Cooked chickpeas would be a nice addition, as would a handful of chopped parsley, chopped red onions or freshly toasted pine nuts. Top your plate with a fried egg for extra protein. You could roast broccoli instead of cauliflower and skip the olives if you’re not into them. This would definitely be a great salad to pack for lunch next week, too!
Before you go, I thought I’d point out the newest addition in my sidebar, labeled KATE RECOMMENDS. It highlights my latest favorite cookbook or kitchen tool, and I intend to update it weekly. Right now, it features a brilliant new vegetarian cookbook called Feast by Sarah Copeland. The publisher sent me a copy and I have since dog-eared almost every page.
If you click on that sidebar link to shop on Amazon, Amazon will give me a small percentage of your total purchase (like 6 percent) instead of keeping it for themselves. I’m working hard to make a living off this blog, so every little bit helps! Thank you in advance for your support.
- 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Light sprinkle fine-grain sea salt
- 1 cup uncooked farro, rinsed
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- ¼ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
- 15 pitted kalamata olives, some halved lengthwise and some sliced into small rounds
- ¼ cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed and roughly chopped
- 2 ounces feta, crumbled (a heaping half cup)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about ½ lemon's worth)
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 avocado, sliced into thin strips
- 4 handfuls leafy greens (spring greens, spinach or arugula are all good choices)
- To roast the cauliflower: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the cauliflower florets with olive oil, red pepper flakes and a light sprinkle of sea salt. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes on the middle rack, turning halfway, until the cauliflower is tender and golden on the edges.
- To cook the farro: In a medium saucepan, combine the rinsed farro with at least three cups water (enough water to cover the farro by a couple of inches). Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer, and cook until the farro is tender to the bite but still pleasantly chewy. (Pearled farro will take around 15 minutes, unprocessed farro will take 25 to 40 minutes.) Drain off the excess water and mix in two teaspoons of olive oil, the garlic and sea salt. Set aside.
- In a large serving bowl, toss together the roasted cauliflower, cooked farro, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, feta and lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
- Divide the avocado and greens among four salad plates. Top with a generous amount of the cauliflower and farro salad. Finish the plates with an extra squeeze of lemon juice or drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve.
Recipe yields 4 generous servings of salad.
Storage suggestions: Leftovers should keep well for several days. Store greens separately and slice the avocado just before serving.
Change it up: If you can't find farro, spelt berries or wheat berries would be great substitutions. You might have to cook those grains longer. Gluten-free eaters, I think this would be good with cooked short-grain brown rice or quinoa instead of farro.
Make it vegan: Skip the feta for a vegan salad.