Sometimes, salads are just a way to eat more cheese. Bring on the feta crumbles, goat cheese blobs, and pecorino shards. This dressing cuts to the chase with lots of ground parmesan, chock-full of umami. Don’t use pre-grated—it’s usually mixed with anti-caking agents labeled as “cellulose.” I like to grind chunks in a food processor until fine. Or, just use a microplane or the smallest holes on a grater. What you will need is a mandoline to shave the vegetables. Play around with the combination—just make sure it’s crunchy, crunchy, crunchy. Think carrots, radishes, daikon, turnips. —Emma Laperruque
Test Kitchen Notes
This recipe is part of Change The Way You Cook, a new series to help anyone (yes, you!) become smarter, faster, and more freewheeling in the kitchen. —The Editors
2 as an entree, 4 as a side
freshly ground (or finely grated) parmesan cheese
extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
Pinch kosher salt
head of cauliflower
bulb of fennel (cut lengthwise, stem still attached)
Combine the parmesan, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a jar with a lid. Close and shake, shake, shake until creamy and emulsified. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed.
Break the cauliflower into big florets. Shave on a mandoline into 1/8”-thick slices—if they’re too thin, they’ll fall apart—directly into a large bowl. Halve the fennel half, lengthwise, leaving the stem attached (this ensures pretty fennel cross-sections). Shave each fennel quarter on the mandoline into paper-thin slices, directly into the bowl. Shave each beet on the mandoline into paper-thin slices, directly into the bowl. Sprinkle with a couple big pinches of salt and toss gingerly with your hands.
Dress the salad—you’ll use all of the vinaigrette—and toss again with your hands. Taste and adjust the salt if necessary. (This can keep in the fridge for a couple hours.) Shower with more ground parmesan just before serving.
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.