Waste not Cauliflower bread salad

Back in March, we made the quick decision to leave on a road trip to South Australia. 

With the State borders reopening, we figured we’d make the most of it before COVID forced border closures again.

Our initial 2 weeks escapade turned into a 41 days journey, taking us thru outback NSW, the bottom half of South Australia and a stint in regional Victoria. It was a fantastic trip, discovering little known corners of Australia and revisiting spots last seen 30 years ago.

Provision wise, I thought I would not load up the truck  too much, expecting to stop along the way and sample some of the local produce. Indeed, we ate very well, dining out in small restaurants, historic pubs, and roadhouses… Regional Australia has so much to offer to the travelling foodie! So much so that by the end of our trip, we had hardly made a dent in our food supplies, in fact we were coming home with more food that we left with!

One of our last nights, we found ourselves in Horsham, regional Victoria. After a long day touring the nearby Grampians NP and unsuccessfully finding a free camp, we managed to secure the last site available at the local caravan park. Night was falling and we were very tempted to follow the park’s  manager’s recommendation to head up to the pub down the road for dinner.  But we were too tired to bother, deciding instead to scour the GX’s cupboards for a cozy van meal instead.

It started with an onion, some garlic, a tin of anchovies and cherry tomatoes always on hand. You know what else is always on hand too? Bread. Stale or frozen. In fact, the freezer is always full of bread about to go stale. And it turns out to be my go to ingredient on the road, transformed into croutons for soups or salads.  

Panzanella, the Italian bread and tomato salad is my favourite way to use up excess ( stale ) bread. That’s what I had in mind when fishing thru the fridge for capsicums, except all I could find was half a cauliflower, some eggs, a chunk of sheep cheese and some dried black olives. Talking about random ingredients! 

Trusting my instincts that the flavours would go well together, I sweated the onions and garlic in plenty of olive oil, adding the bread cubes to fry until golden and crunch. Set the mixture aside in a bowl, while I pan fried the cauliflower florets long enough for them to tan while still remaining firm. It was then just a matter of mixing everything together with the boiled eggs, anchovies, olives and a good dose of red wine vinegar. The result was a hybrid version of panzanella and cauliflower salad, hearty enough to have on its own. 

While it tasted delicious, I suspect that what I love most about this salad is the fact that I managed to put it all together in the tiniest of kitchen, using one pan on a single stove top. Granted, it required a little organisation, but considering how yummy the end result is, I’d happily cook this again!

Bread and Cauliflower salad

Serves 2 as a main, 4 as a side

Ingredients

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1/2 cauliflower, cut into small florets

8 ripe cherry tomatoes, halved

200g stale country bread, cut into 2.5cm cubes

4tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tin of anchovies in olive oil 

1 small clove of garlic, crushed

6tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 eggs, boiled, peeled and quartered

50g of sheep cheese ( feta style )

A handful of dried black olives

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a frying pan, cook the onions until soft and brown ( not burnt !). Add the bread cubes and fry until golden and slightly crunchy ( use extra olive oil if needed ). Stir in the crushed garlic and toss thru until warmed through ( the reason I add garlic last is that I don’t want it to burn ). Set the mixture aside in a large bowl.
  2. In the same frying pan, add  2 tbsp olive oil, and cook the cauliflower florets, stirring  until they have a light gold colour but still remaining firm ( “al dente” cauliflower? )
  3. Add the cauliflower to the bread onion mix, moisten with the red wine vinegar, 2 tbsp of olive oil, toss in the cherry tomatoes halves, cheese, anchovies, black olives and toss until well combined. Allow to sit for 15 mn or so before serving.
  4. Garnish with boiled eggs and serve at room temperature.

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