What grows in October?
To be honest. I don’t really know. What seems like October might be a hearty salad. Enough to keep me warm. Enough to still keep me light on my toes without a desperate need for a hibernation nap.
Just a pot, a heavy pan, a cutting board and knife. My ingredients gathered about, in and out of the sink. Without having made this salad before, it already feels quite familiar. Being I’ll just wash and trim, toast, blanch and dice. Methodical and quiet. Quite nice to feel uninterrupted fixing lunch as more of a means to get on with the day than to be startled by sizzling action and unknown outcomes. One day, I’ll be at peace with something more, but I can quite confidently confirm, blanching, toasting and dicing is no problem had by me.
Bring a large pasta pot full of plenty of well salted water up to a boil, blanch the cauliflower pieces until soft, but not mushy. It should hold its sturdy shape, but be soft enough to chew without resistance (and digest!) Followed by the potatoes, blanched in the same manner. Meanwhile toast the walnuts in a heavy pan until fragrant. And as everything cools, chop the ingredients and toss everything together. “Wahla!” I love to say.
This salad idea came from one of Lidia’s books. She goes into such detail as to where her dish ideas originate from among her sightful travels. This one felt so familiar to me. I would have believed her if she first said she traveled to the great north east of America and discovered this apple, cheese and cauliflower salad! Not far off? But quite. She came about this dish in one of the very northern regions of Italy known as Trentino-Alto Adige. A place both containing Italian and German language and culture. The most hearty nonna’s cooking I can imagine! This is the place where Italy’s most versed apple farmers are. Growing thousands of varieties, in the same plot of land that has been spouting apples since the middle ages. Lidia even came about a spaghetti tossed in a shredded apple tomato sauce! (Which she found marvelous! I’m still skeptical, but won’t knock it till it’s tried.) Another product made from the land as old as time, is Asiago cheese. Made from cattle grazing on the lush pastures of Asiago High Plateau.
So behold the great country salad. A simple gesture for lunch. I think the people of Trentino-Alto Adige were thinking; “What’s available? And what will keep me warm, yet light on my feet?”
serves many many many, (times over).
- 1 head of cauliflower, broken into pieces
- 4 small red potatoes (or a 4 handfuls of baby red potatoes)
- 1 bundle of radish, washed, trimmed and quartered
- 2 apples, diced
- 1 red onion, diced
- 8 oz asiago, diced
- 1 cup walnuts, toasted
- 2 large handfuls of Italian parsley, chopped
- large pinch of salt
- ¼ c extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp sherry vinegar
Begin by washing the ingredients which need a good rinsing and scrub. Meanwhile a large pot of well salted water is coming up to a boil. When ready, submerge cauliflower pieces into the pot. After about five minutes when soft but not mushy, remove the cauliflower and place in a colander to drain and cool down. In the same fashion, blanch the potatoes. Removing when soft but not mushy, then placing in colander to drain. Dice into chunks when cool enough to handle. Continue on by dicing the radish, asiago, apple, onion and parsley. Meanwhile toasting the walnuts in a heavy pan until fragrant. They color quick so don’t stray far from the happening by keeping your nose up. Toss everything together in your biggest bowl, along with four fingered pinch of salt, sherry vinegar and olive oil.