Welcome to my latest obsession: fried capers.
If you have yet to try them yet, try to imagine how they would taste. Crunchy, salty little nibbles. It surprised me how much they taste like popcorn, I kid you not. Combined with the pickled currants (tart and sweet), and the avocado (creamy!), this salad was perfectly balanced. I know I say that a lot here, but this salad rises above its peers. It could possibly be my best salad of the year. I thought my Cali-Coco BLT Salad was the best so far, but this week I switched allegiances. It could possibly usurp the former champion, crowned in 2011: The New Best Salad Ever aka Roasted Garlic Tofu Salad with Cilantro Rice, Black Beans and a Mango Salsa.
I am no stranger to quick pickled dried fruits, but the benefit of pickling dried currants instead of raisins, is that you don’t get the goopy juicy raisins that don’t particularly appeal to me.
My inspiration for this fascinating combination was the ever-fabulous Deb of Smitten Kitchen, although I changed many things, including adding the much maligned leafy greens. I also chose to roast my cauliflower and added the fantastically creamy avocado. I look forward to trying her riced fresh cauliflower in the warmer months. The fried capers? Completely her idea. Her poetic prose made me stock up on capers pronto:
Crispy fried capers are one of my favorite garnishes, ever. They are way more interesting than bacon bits — yes, I said it. When you drop capers (that you’ve patted out on paper towels as best as possible) in a little puddle of oil, magical things happen — their layers curl out and crisp, like the world’s tiniest blooming onion. Like all fried, crunchy things, they don’t keep long under the weight of dressing; I recommend adding them only right before serving. I usually use brined capers for this, but both brined and salt-packed will work.
Um yeah, totally try them out. Please.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad with Fried Capers and Pickled Currants
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 large head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
2 tbsp melted oil of choice
salt and pepper, to taste
1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp dried currants
2 tbsp capers, soaked for 10 minutes, rinsed and drained
2 avocados, sliced
8 cups mixed greens
1. Roast your cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400F. In a large bowl, mix together the cauliflower florets, oil and sprinkle with salt and lemon pepper seasoning. Even space the cauliflower onto 2 silpat-lined baking trays and roast for 40 minutes, stirring half-way through. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
2. Toast your almonds in a small skillet over medium heat, remove form pan and set aside.
3. In a small bowl, combine white wine vinegar and currants. Set aside until absorbed.
4. Rinse and drain your soaked capers. Dry them very well, on top of a paper towel or clean cloth.
5. Place an even layer of coconut oil in a small skillet over high heat. Add capers and step back as the oil explodes all over the place. Allow the capers to fry, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, around 1 minute. Remove from oil and allow the oil to drain.
6. To serve, plate mixed greens, roasted cauliflower, sliced almonds, currants, capers and avocados. Between mashing the avocado and the juicy currants, I did not feel like this needed a bona fide dressing.