Reinforcement Salad: Insalata di Rinforzo
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets, and leaves
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup salt
- 3 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2-inch thick strips
- 3 cups white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 4 whole cloves garlic
- 2 carrots, cut on the bias into 1/4-inch thick pieces
- 3 ribs celery, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch thick pieces
- 16 whole cippolline (Italian baby onions)
- 1 bulb fennel, cut into 1/4-inch batons
- 8 salt-packed anchovies, rinsed and filleted
- 18 Gaeta olives, pitted
- 18 large green olives, pitted
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Plunge the cauliflower florets and leaves into the boiling water and cook 9 to 10 minutes, until tender. Remove the cauliflower, reserving the boiling water, refresh in ice water, and set aside.
Remove 2 quarts of the boiling water (to leave about 1/2 gallon) from the pot and add 3 cups white wine vinegar, salt, fennel seeds and garlic and bring to a boil. Drop the carrots, celery, cippolline and fennel into the water and vinegar solution and cook until tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove the vegetables and garlic. Refresh all in an ice bath and drain well.
In a large mixing bowl, place the cauliflower, cooked vegetables, garlic, anchovies, both kinds of olives and the vinegar and oil. Season with salt and pepper, toss well to mix and arrange on a platter with the olives and anchovies near the top and serve.