Hearty Cauliflower and Radicchio Salad with Pine Nuts, Barberries, and Sumac
"This is one of the salads I eat straight from the mixing bowl, all four servings, all for me. I think winter salads are their own art form, and my framework includes four elements: bitter or peppery greens (chicories, arugula, dandelion, etc.), creaminess (could be cheese, large white beans, a tahini dressing, or cooked vegetables such as roasted pumpkin), crunch (chopped nuts, toasted sesame or buckwheat, crispy capers, or fried breadcrumbs), and something tangy to lift everything up (citrus, pomegranate, vinegar, etc.). This salad has all of that, and—striped and splattered with different hues of white and magenta—it is striking too.
Seek out Treviso or the lesser-known Lusia radicchio. These beautiful, variegated chicory varieties are relatives of the more-familiar Chioggia radicchio. Lusia has a light-green base with red speckles and all the boldly bittersweet flavor of its chicory family relatives. If you can’t find barberries, use dried currants instead.
Tips—If you’re not that into chicories, just omit them and nix the dressing; shower the roasted cauliflower in the pickled red onion, barberries, pine nuts, and sumac and serve it as a side for two to three people. Dig chicories, but looking to make this into a main course? Add chickpeas or, instead of cauliflower, use leftover roast chicken—sliced, chopped, or pulled into bite-sized pieces."
½ small red onion, very thinly sliced
1 teaspoon Banyuls vinegar or other red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt
2 medium heads cauliflower (approximately 4 ½ pounds), cored and cut or broken into small (approximately 1 to 1 ½ inches) florets
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 medium or 4 small heads radicchio (12 to 14 ounces) (such as Lusia, chioggia, and/or castelfranco), leaves separated, large leaves torn into 3-inch pieces
2 tablespoons barberries
1 ½ teaspoons ground sumac, divided
1 ½ tablespoons olive oil or ghee
1/3 cup pine nuts
Fine sea salt
Fried Pine Nuts
Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss the onion and vinegar in a large bowl; season with salt. The onion will pickle slightly while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment and divide the cauliflower florets between them. Toss each pan of cauliflower with ¼ cup olive oil and season with salt. Arrange the cauliflower so a flat side is facing down and roast until dark brown and crisp on bottom, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and turn the pieces over. Roast until the other side is dark brown and crisp, 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Meanwhile, fry the pine nuts. In a 9- or 10-inch skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add the pine nuts and fry for 2 to 3 minutes, giving the skillet a shake a few times, or until golden brown. Tip them onto a cutting board (if you leave them in the skillet with the hot fat, they’ll continue to brown), toss them with a pinch of salt, and let them cool. Coarsely chop them; I find it prevents them from all ending up on the bottom of the mixing bowl.
In a large mixing bowl, toss the radicchio with the cauliflower, onion, the onion’s vinegar, and a pinch of salt. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil, most of the barberries, half the sumac, and most of the pine nuts and toss to coat. Transfer the salad to a platter or shallow bowl and top with reserved barberries, sumac, and pine nuts. This salad holds better than most, but I recommend serving within an hour of tossing.