I’ve always been a fan of hearty, interesting salads. I tend to dislike fully raw salads – I mean, have you ever actually enjoyed a bowl of iceberg lettuce, tomato, raw broccoli, and raw bell pepper? Instead, I like to make salads more like Buddha bowls, with many contrasting elements that come together beautifully. I think every salad should have raw elements, cooked elements, something soft, something crunchy, and something unexpected. It should also be a little bitter, a little acidic, a little salty, and a little sweet.
My mother said this was the best salad I’ve ever made, and I think I have to agree. It meets all my criteria, combining raw arugula, roasted cauliflower, buttery grains, dried cherries, chopped pistachios, and plenty of fresh dill. A balsamic vinaigrette with spicy mustard adds some bright acidity, while the cherries provide tiny pops of sweetness.
Feel free to customize this salad. In my head, I jokingly refer to this dish as my “quarantine salad” because the ingredients change based on what I can find at the grocery, where the selection dwindles every time I shop. Use this recipe as a template and swap in anything you find and/or enjoy eating.
Buckwheat: wild rice, quinoa, jasmine rice
Dried cherries: dried cranberries, raisins, pomegranate seeds, blueberries
Arugula: spinach, spring mix, massaged kale
Cauliflower: broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts
Pistachios: chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts
NOTE: I’ve tried this salad with both buckwheat and wild rice. Buckwheat is not very aesthetically appealing, but I think it tastes a lot better. Wild rice is visually beautiful but less impactful flavor-wise. The recipe below uses buckwheat.
Cauliflower and Arugula Salad with Pistachios, Cherries, and Dill
- Cauliflower 2 small or 1 large
- 2.5 tbsp neutral oil
- 3 packed tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup raw buckwheat groats
- 1 3/4 cup chicken broth or water
- 1 tbsp butter
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup pistachios roughly chopped
- 3/4 cup dried cherries roughly chopped
- 3 cups arugula rinsed and dried
- 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp spicy or dijon mustard
- 1 packed tbsp fresh dill finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400º F. Chop the cauliflower into florets and add to a baking sheet along with the dill, oil, salt, and pepper. Toss to combine and roast for 15 minutes.
- During the last minute or two of roasting, heat a large dry skillet over high heat. Take the cauliflower out of the oven and transfer to the hot pan, where it should sizzle upon contact. Stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes, or until the cauliflower has browned slightly. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Rinse the buckwheat groats. Add to a small pot along with the broth or water, butter, and salt. Bring to a gentle boil, then cover and simmer undisturbed for about 20 minutes, or until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork and remove from heat. Let cool.
- Add all the dressing ingredients to a sealable jar and shake vigorously to combine. Taste and adjust the flavors if necessary.
- In a large bowl, combine the cherries, pistachios, arugula, cooled buckwheat, and cooled cauliflower. Drizzle individual portions with dressing before serving.