I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw fresh broccoli at the farmers' market. Although Madison, Wisconsin is home of the country's largest producer-only farmers' market in the summer, in winter the variety of fresh local produce is not quite so plentiful. It's true you can get root vegetables and greens all winter long, but the arrival of each new veggie is an occasion to be treasured. Even though it's grown in a greenhouse, this first taste of broccoli will be short-lived so I tried to put it to good, if simple, use. And when in doubt, roast it! I eat roasted broccoli and cauliflower in absolutely ridiculous amounts, but every so often they make it into more elaborate recipes. The vegetal element of this salad is threefold - deeply flavorful roasted broccoli, sharp and crunchy red onion, and tender greens showcase so much of what vegetables bring to a dish. The chickpeas make the salad truly substantial and the salty feta cheese is the perfect foil for both the deep caramelized flavors and the sharp and fresh ones. The vernal equinox just around the bend and soon after it all the wonderful ingredients of spring, but until the snows disappear this hearty salad is just what the season ordered.
Chickpea and Roasted Broccoli Salad with Feta
4 ounces cauliflower or broccoli, cut into small to medium florets with at least one flat side
Olive oil cooking spray
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces salad greens or lettuce
1/2 ounce red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup canned chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed and drained
1/2 ounce crumbled feta or goat cheese
Salad dressing, for serving
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Toss the cauliflower with olive oil to coat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast until tender and browned, about 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, spread salad greens on a plate, topping with red onion and chickpeas. Once the cauliflower or broccoli is done roasted, sprinkle on the salad and top with cheese. Drizzle with salad dressing of choice, and enjoy!