Insalata di Rinforzo col Cavolfiore

Cauliflower Salad with Red Pepper, Olives, and Anchovies

This is a Sicilian salad traditionally made to be consumed during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. More of it is made than can be eaten the first day, and each day thereafter fresh ingredients are added to replenish the ones consumed. That is the explanation of the name insalata di rinforzo, “reinforced salad.” The original version has pickles, which I have replaced here with red bell pepper. It is admittedly less seasonal, but I found the pepper’s mildness desirable in a salad that can become quite sharp.


  • 1 head cauliflower, about pounds
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 4 flat anchovy fillets, chopped coarse
  • ½ cup sweet red bell pepper, peeled, cored, and cut into strips
  • 10 black Greek-style olives, pitted and halved
  • Salt
  • Black pepper in a grinder
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons wine vinegar


  1. Discard the large outer leaves of the cauliflower and rinse it in cold water. Cut a cross into the root.
  2. Bring at least 6 cups of water to a boil. Add the cauliflower, cover the pot, and cook until the stem of the cauliflower is easily pierced by a fork, 20 minutes or more, depending on the cauliflower. Drain and let cool.
  3. When the cauliflower is cool, break up the clusters into bite-size pieces or slightly larger and put them in a salad bowl.
  4. Add all the other ingredients, toss well, taste and correct for seasoning, and serve.