Be Careful What You Wish For

“Be careful what you wish for” has been running through my mind the past few days as temperatures reached eighty, then ninety, then one hundred degrees.  Who knew the first days of summer would blast in with a record heat wave?  I didn’t when I wrote in my last post: “Now that the Solstice is upon us, perhaps rain and warmth will continue, or at least warmth, and vegetables will really start to grow.”  Well, with this unusual heat the vegetables are really growing.  Tassels are forming on corn plants, zucchinis are stretching out, cherry tomatoes ripening, pole beans climbing strings, cauliflower and broccoli swelling into heads.  I’ve been out early the past few mornings harvesting anything that will suffer in the heat: radishes, turnips, rabe, cauliflower, broccoli.  And with the fridge full and the days too hot to be outdoors, I’ve been in the kitchen, trying out some new recipes.  

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s recipe for Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nut, Raisin, and Caper Vinaigrette on Serious Eats makes a perfect summer salad.  I’ve made it twice, using walnuts instead of pine nuts both times because that’s what I had.  I also used the beautiful orange Flame Star cauliflowerI harvested during the heat. The only downside of this recipe during our heat wave is the 500-degree oven recommended for roasting the cauliflower.

Roasted Cauliflower with Pine Nut, Raisin, and Caper Vinaigrette


1 head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into 8 wedges

6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon (15ml) sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon (15ml) honey

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained, and roughly chopped

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins 

2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley leaves

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 500°F (260°C). Toss cauliflower with 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer to a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until cauliflower is tender and deeply browned on both sides, about 20 minutes total, flipping cauliflower with a thin metal spatula halfway through roasting.

While cauliflower roasts, combine remaining 3 tablespoons (45ml) olive oil, vinegar, honey, capers, pine nuts, raisins, and parsley. Season dressing to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer cooked cauliflower to a serving plate and spoon dressing on top. Serve immediately.

A recipe for broccoli salad that doesn’t call for oven-roasting or any other cooking is Melissa Clark’s Broccoli Salad with Garlic and Sesame.  Introducing the recipe, she writes: “This salad is made from uncooked broccoli tossed with an assertive garlic, sesame, chile and cumin-seed vinaigrette slicked with good extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar. The acid “cooks” the florets a little as ceviche does fish. After an hour, the broccoli softens as if blanched, turning bright emerald, and soaking up all the intense flavors of the dressing. You’ll be making this one again.”  She’s right.  I made a quarter batch for lunch and then made a half batch for dinner. I’ll definitely be making it again, perhaps a full batch for guests.  It’s very pretty with just the green broccoli but also lovely with the first cherry tomatoes of the season.

Broccoli Salad with Garlic and Sesame

Serves 6-8

  • 1 ½ teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
  • 2 heads broccoli, 1 pound each, cut into bite-size florets
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 fat garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons roasted (Asian) sesame oil
  •  Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the vinegar and salt. Add broccoli and toss to combine.
  2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until hot, but not smoking. Add garlic and cumin and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Stir in sesame oil and pepper flakes. Pour mixture over broccoli and toss well. Let sit for at least 1 hour at room temperature, and up to 48 (chill it if you want to keep it for more than 2 hours). Adjust seasonings (it may need more salt) and serve.

Temperatures are easing back to early summer normal now, a relief for us and for the kitchen garden vegetables. There are still a few more vegetables in the refrigerator though, so I’ll keep looking for new ways to use them.

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