I've been traveling for the past 4 weeks so it's hard for me to believe that it's going to be Christmas in 15 days. I love the holidays and I usually start feeling the holiday spirit come Thanksgiving, but this year I'm falling behind! No gifts have been bought, no tree has been decorated and no menus have been planned...the chaos! Today, I finally decided to get my act together and started to work on the Christmas menu. A roast is the traditional main dish in our household, but the side dishes are all open to the chef aka me. After figuring out that I wanted a cauliflower, rice, and salad dish in the mix, I decided to combine all of those ingredients into one. Here is my cauliflower, kale, and farro salad with a walnut vinaigrette, perfect as a side or as a healthy lunch!
Cauliflower, Kale and Farro Salad
Quick pickled red onion
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 2 garlic cloves sliced
- ½ cup farro
- ½ cup white wine
- 1 ½ cup vegetable or chicken stock
- 3 cups cauliflower
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- salt and pepper
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ cup walnuts toasted and chopped
- 1 shallot minced
- 1 ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ cup olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 bunch kale
- juice of 1 lemon
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Combine vinegar, sugar, and salt for the pickled red onions in a medium bowl. Stir until sugar and salt dissolved. Add red onions and stir. Let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 30 seconds. Add farro, stir and toast for 30 seconds. Add wine and cook until almost all evaporated. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
- Roast the cauliflower. Cut into florets. Toss with garlic, olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Remove from heat and keep warm.
- Prepare walnut vinaigrette. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and saute until shallots have softened about 1 minute. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl. Add the toasted walnuts, mustard, vinegar, and honey. Drizzle olive oil into the mixture, whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper.
- Remove stems from kale and tear big leaves into smaller pieces. Squeeze lemon juice and pour vinaigrette onto kale. Massage leaves until softened, making sure every kale is seasoned with the vinaigrette. Toss together with pickled red onions, farro, and roasted cauliflower, adding more vinaigrette. Can be served hot or cold.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Many, many years ago I made a green bean dish with a hazelnut dressing for an event. For some reason, I forgot about that dish until now and used that dressing as inspiration for this walnut vinaigrette. The roasted cauliflower, pickled red onion, and farro are good already, but toss everything with this walnut vinaigrette and it's a life-changer.
Start by pickling the red onion. This is a quick pickling method so it only takes thirty minutes but you can also pickle the onions days before. While the red onion is sitting in the vinegar mixture, cook the farro. This is a simple farro pilaf recipe, cooking the grains in white wine and broth. You can omit the white wine and add more broth if you're not a fan of wine. You can also substitute the farro for barley, quinoa, or even wild rice and the dish would still be tasty.
While the farro is cooking, make the walnut dressing. This dressing is the key to making this salad extra delicious. Saute chopped shallots and mix it with chopped toasted walnuts, honey, dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and olive oil. Make sure the nuts are toasted to maximize their flavor. If you like, use walnut oil with the walnuts for extra walnut-y flavor!
Massage the kale with a touch of lemon and the salad dressing to soften the leaves. If you skip this step, the kale will be tough - talk about a jaw workout! Top it with the roasted cauliflower, pickled onions, farro, and extra dressing.
I had originally planned on adding shaved parmesan but completely forgot until after I ate it. It's not completely essential to the salad but add some shavings for that extra nutty, sharp taste. I absolutely loved this cauliflower, kale, and farro salad with the nutty tangy walnut dressing. Definitely adding this dish to the holiday menu!
For more salad inspiration check out this cherry nectarine arugula salad!
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