Simple Italian Cauliflower Salad Complements Your Summer Barbecue

Cauliflower "A La Baba"is a dish named after the way my Italian father dresses so many delicious vegetables. Buon Appetito!

In our house growing up we always had lots of vegetables at the table. Forget coming home to a batch of chocolate chip cookies on a plate. In its place there would often be a bowl of simply prepared vegetables in this heavenly vinaigrette.

The secret to making this vegetable dish shine is to add the hot cooked vegetable to the vinaigrette straight after cooking. The garlic will have a chance to mellow and the vinegar cooks down to produce a sweet and tangy sauce that can be spooned over simply grilled meat, chicken or fish.

Vegetarians can keep a big batch of this dish on hand to spoon over simple salad of lettuce, tomato and new potatoes. You can substitute string beans for the cauliflower. I like to boil my vegetables even though steaming is said to be better for nutritional value. I figure if nobody eats a steamed vegetable, it is really not very nutritious.

My kids love this tangy, sweet vegetable vinaigrette. Kids asking for second servings of vegetables? Now THAT'S Italian!

Cauliflower a la Baba

  • One head cauliflower rinsed and left whole
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • Several "glugs" of olive oil
  • Twice as much vinegar as oil (rice wine, white wine, balsamic)
  • Sea salt and black pepper to taste 

Place whole head of cauliflower in salted, boiling water until fork tender right to the center of the head. I like mine soft but not falling apart, about 15-20 minutes depending on size.

Meanwhile, prepare your vinaigrette. Pour olive oil and vinegar into bowl. Add garlic and seasonings.  

When cauliflower is tender, remove it from boiling water and take care placing it on top of vinaigrette in bowl. It's fine if the hot water also leaks into the bowl. In fact, it will taste great as part of the vinaigrette.

Place the lid (or a dish) on top of your bowl and let sit for at least 10 minutes. (This is a good time to go get your kids from school and let the steam work its magic.)

After the flavors have had a chance to combine, take lid off, and cut stem of the cauliflower off and throw away.

Cut with knife or large spoon into desired sized pieces. I love cauliflower when it is broken up into tiny nuggets. The longer you leave this dish to sit, the more the vegetable will soak up the juices.

This dish looks so pretty when spooned over a piece of grilled chicken, fish or meat. 

Serve warm, room temperature or chilled overnight in fridge.  


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