This salad needs a good soak in its dressing to come to life. It's one of those dishes that’s even better the day after making.
1 large snowy-white pristine cauliflower Salt 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 1½ Tbsp lemon juice, or more to taste ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper 12 stuffed green olives, drained, mopped and coarsely chopped 2 Tbsp capers, drained, mopped and coarsely chopped 2 Tbsp finely chopped parsley 1 Tbsp finely chopped marjoram (or 1 tsp dried marjoram) Crumb topping 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed Flaky sea salt Paprika for dusting
1 Trim cauliflower and cut into small florets. Plunge into a large saucepan of gently boiling salted water and leave in the water for 2 minutes (no longer!). Drain into a large colander and refresh with plenty of cold water to halt the cooking. Drain, then shake colander to rid of excess water and lay cauliflower on paper towels to dry for 5 minutes.
2 Have ready the extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, ¾ teaspoon salt (you may need more, so check after tossing), pepper, olives and capers mixed together in a large bowl. Add cauliflower and herbs and toss until cauliflower is well coated with the dressing.
3 To make the crumb topping, heat oil in a small non-stick frying pan (skillet) over medium heat. When it is hot, add the crumbs and stir immediately. Cook until golden, then stir in garlic and season with a few pinches of sea salt. Cook a few minutes more to cook the garlic through, then spoon on top of salad. Do not toss through, or the crumbs will lose crispness. Serve immediately.
For this salad to work, the pieces of cauliflower need to be small, so they receive plenty of flavour from the dressing. Oh, and the water for blanching needs to be well salted. Once you’ve made the salad, keep it at room temperature, tossing it from time to time to make sure the dressing really penetrates the cauliflower. The crumbs can be fried ahead, too, but don’t put them on until serving time. If making to serve the day ahead, cover and refrigerate once you’ve done the tossing business, and bring to room temperature before serving. The crumbs can also be done a day ahead.