Egg ‘Mimosa’ Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing

Lately, I have been thinking about what being authentic really means.

I am a person who falls in love with everything, and has a very flexible mind. Even though I write a blog about Italian food, my favorite food to cook and eat is Asian. I cook Italian food almost uniquely for the blog and for my clients and, while I absolutely love it, my days are filled with vegetarian dashi, miso paste, and simple soups and salads. I often eat with chopsticks.
Even though my blog focuses on vegetarian and vegan food, there are times that I will eat oily fish, as I need lots of Omega-3s to help my PCOS-fatigued hormones work well, and I have to take fish oil supplements anyway.
I am an advocate for ditching sugar and its derivatives, but that one time of the month I have dessert, I want it to be proper sweet.
Even though I love making pasta and bread, and LOVE teaching how to make them, I hardly ever eat them. And, even though I live in Italy and write about how beautiful it is over here, sometimes I can’t shake the feeling that my heart belongs to the US and there are times I just feel like crying in a corner because I miss it so much. 

So, am I a big, fat contradiction of a person?

Maybe not.

Egg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural Cooking

Ultimately, I came to the conclusion that being authentic does not necessarily mean to be 100% consistent with one’s ideas. Rather, it has to do with sticking to doing what you love and following your gut instinct, and not become a slave to your own ideals. And, I think that not being stubborn about our own views and ideals has inherently to do with doing the right thing and making right choices. As this thought about what authenticity is kept harassing me, I realized that I was trying a little too hard in making recipes that looked consistent with the image everyone has of my country and culture. As it turns out, those recipes were, although probably consistent with the nature of this blog, not coherent with the nature of who I am. So I think I am going to cut myself some slack and use a little more of the ingredients I love the most for my recipes, like tahini or miso.  

Every time I develop a recipe, I ask myself ‘would I really eat this? And would I really love it?
Sometimes, I am sorry to say, the answer has been no.
But I shared it anyways, because I though it would feel authentic.
Well, it can’t feel authentic if I don’t love it – at least, not authentic to me. So I am going to answer that question more truthfully from now on. Be prepared to see some more variety of things in this blog from now on, and I hope you will love it as much as you do. 

Egg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural Cooking

This salad recipe is full of bittersweet feelings: as all sorts of cruciferous vegetables start their decline (of which I am really sad about), the first spring produce is appearing in our markets: asparagus, liscari or agretti, and artichokes are all making a first shy appearance, aided by the warm weather that has blessed the beginning of March. Gardens and parks are full of flowers, and I am surrounded by a whirlwind of white petals falling from the early flowering plum trees. I picked some daffodils growing on the edge of a country road around here for this photoshoot, and my kitchen now smells like flowers and (slightly less romantic) IKEA vanilla candlestick. 

Spring in Italy is pretty, indeed. 

I made this salad after cooking up a batch of (protein-packed) broad beans and brown sprouted rice from Baule Volante – a kind gift from my friend Riccardo, and sprouted brown rice is SO good. I actually love it plain, with just some vegetables on the side.

An egg ‘Mimosa’ is nothing more than crumbled hard-boiled egg yolk. it is called by that because it looks like Mimosa flowers, a tree of pretty yellow clusters that usually bloom in March, and it’s a super spring-y kind of thing.

This garlic dressing, though…if you’ve never roasted garlic before, please do and enter a whole new world. Roasted garlic loses its pungency and turns mellow and creamy, and even more packed in flavor than in its raw state. For this recipe, you will likely have leftover oil and garlic dressing, and you’ll be glad you do.
I got quail eggs, as I saw them in supermarkets (I guess they have a season, as well), just for the sake of trying them out, as I never did. I usually get my eggs from my own hens here in the garden (I can see them walking in front of my window door now, actually…). They sure are pretty for photoshoots, aren’t they?

Egg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural CookingEgg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural Cooking

As for the Romanesco, I did not realize that it is a uniquely Italian vegetable until some of you told me that you could not find it where you live – I had no trouble finding it in New York and I’m pretty sure I saw it all over LA as well. If you cannot find it, broccoli would work perfectly, and so would brussels sprouts.

This salad makes for a wonderful dish to put on the Easter table, for those who want a lighter take on Easter lunch.  But it is a perfect everyday salad, alright. Rather quick if you are using pre-cooked rice and pulses, as well.

Egg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing
Serves 2
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Italian
  • Cloves from 2 whole garlic heads, unpeeled
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • The roasted garlic
  • 3 tablespoons roasted garlic oil
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 2 ~ 3 fresh basil leaves (1 tablespoon chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Pinch pepper (yuzu kosho is nice here if you have it)
  • Lemon juice, to taste
  • TO FINISH: Shaved Grana cheese, or some toasted nuts of choice
  • ½ cup dried broad beans, or 1 cup cooked
  • ½ cup sprouted brown rice, or 1 cup cooked
  • 1 small bunch asparagus (about 10 spears)
  • 1 small head Romanesco Cauliflower, cut into florets (works wonderfully with broccoli as well)
  • 6 quail eggs (or 2 regular eggs)
  • Sea salt and pepper
  1. Add the garlic cloves and the oil in a small baking dish that is about 2 inches tall, and cover well with aluminum foil. Roast at 390 F˚ / 200 C˚ for about 30 minutes, until the garlic cloves are soft.
  2. To make the dressing, squeeze the roasted garlic cloves, which will have turned creamy and mellow, into a mortar. Add 3 tablespoons of the roasting oil, water, herbs, salt and pepper, and grind to a paste. If you do not have a mortar, you can smother the garlic in a bowl with the back of a spoon. If you like, add a little lemon juice at the end, to taste. Reserve the remaining oil.
  1. If using dried broad beans, soak them for at least 12 hours, and boil them until soft, about 1 hour. Boil the rice as per package instructions - it should take about 40 minutes. If using pre-cooked beans and rice, combine them in a bowl.
  2. Remove the hard bottom part from the asparagus by delicately bending them until they snap on their own. Steam (or boil) the Romanesco florets and the asparagus until soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 390 F˚ / 200 C˚ (you can do this in one go with the garlic).
  4. Toss the steamed vegetables with a tablespoon of the garlic oil, salt and pepper and roast until nice and caramelized, about 30 minutes.
  5. In the meantime, boil the quail eggs by placing them in a pot of cold water. Turn on the burner and wait for the water to come to a boil: from then, count 2 minutes for soft-boiled eggs, and 3 for a set yolk.
  6. Once everything is ready, toss the vegetables with the broad beans and rice and the dressing (you might not want to add all of it - adjust to taste). Transfer to a serving plate or to individual plated and finish with the quail eggs, crumbling a couple hard-boiled yolks for the 'Mimosa' effect.
  7. Save any leftover oil and dressing in a jar in the fridge for another use.


A NOTE ON SUBSTITUTIONS: I am not sure I would love this with cauliflower, but in the absence of Romanesco, Broccoli or Brussels will do the trick wonderfully, as mentioned above.

As for grains and pulses, try cannellini instead of broad beans, and quinoa or couscous instead of rice. Still awesome!

Can you find Romanesco where you are? How do you use quail eggs? Did spring produce already make an appearance where you live (unless you’re in Australia…)?

PS: Stay tuned for some news! Me, Zaira and Betty are conjuring up some sweet stuff. I LOVE collabs between bloggers! We can do so much amazing stuff together. I am also working to set up a couple workshops in the warm season in the Italian countryside. Stay tuned!

Egg 'Mimosa' Salad with Roasted Romanesco, Sprouted Rice & Roasted Garlic Dressing | Hortus Natural Cooking

  1. Again, beautiful words Valentina. I have been asking myself the same questions lately (I’m just reading a book called The gifts of imperfections that deals with the topic), and you are spot on. Feeling what is right for us and being honest to yourself brings autenticity. Looking forward to what you ladies are preparing :)

  2. omg YAYY This post really struck home with me – I initially (and still do) struggled with what y blog would contain. I almost felt restricted to doing asian food – both traditional and fusion, and woe be me if I did like, a pasta dish with no asian influences. But, I’m starting to get out of that. The blog is an extension of me, and what I’m excited about, so I’m slowly starting to let go of this “rule” I have in my head, that everything has to do with asian influences. This blog post is just lovely, and I’m super excited for future things <3.

    • I love how fusion your blog looks Betty, but I’d love anything you do regardless, so I don’t even know how you could worry about it. Thank you for sharing what you do with everyone in the first place <3 And thank you for adding your 2 cents to this thread!

  3. I’ve been mulling over the same question lately as authenticity is central to what I’ve always wanted to be about. I am struggling to know how to stay true to the style of food I’ve always featured on my blog and what my readers expect from me while going completely carb and sugar free since January. I have to admit I still haven’t figured it out but I am trying. I believe authenticity is a fluid thing and people might question it because life evolves and eating style changes with it. That being said, blogging is about self-expression and it is also authentic to express different sides of oneself. I love your take on the mimosa salad, which, funnily enough, exists in Russian cuisine as well! :-)

    • I think the best thing to do is involve your readers into your lifestyle change, right? I realized that being too strict with one’s own idea of what people expect from you is detrimental to one’s work. Thank you for sharing your thought with me :)

      I had no idea Mimosa existed in Russian!! The more you know!

      PS: you blog is so beautiful I’m sure whatever you do will be great!

  4. Your mimosa salad is mouthwatering and I’d like to make it. You’re certainly very sincere in your remarks about your own authenticity. I think it takes courage to go against what people expect from you, but when you feel it is the right thing and corresponds with your own feeling it should be accepted without restraint.
    I saw you as lover of the authentic, simple, fresh, delicious Italian cuisine and now I learn you’re fond of ingredients of other countries. Quite a revelation! Although I love Italy and it’s food, sometimes I regret a touch of narrow mindedness in Italy, that has few exotic restaurants in comparison to other European countries and where a rigid following of ancient recipes sometimes is the rule.

    • Thank you Karl for your sweet comment! Yes, I deeply love ALL exotic ingredients, and I miss the exposure to them I had in the city. Unfortunately many Italians think that incorporating more exotic things in our culture would mean giving up a little of it, but that is not true. Especially in cities, things are starting to change. I am so happy to know you agree on this subject :)

  5. Hi Valentina. I have been following your blog for a while now and this post sounds like a breeze of fresh air. While being a firm believer that we must be true to ourselves and our instincts I’m looking forward for your recipes including all ingredients you love. Also, I’m sure that if there were sesame seeds in Italy back in the day, they would certainly be used, and historical new ingredients from other parts of the world made its way into tradition too . Italian food, as Portuguese food, is all about respecting the ingredients and using them at their best, bringing out as much of their goodness and freshness as possible. That is for me the essence of the way we cook around the Mediterranean so in what matters the most I believe your cooking will always be true to that principal, therefore it will always be following the Italian tradition. cheers :)

  6. Quale eggs are oh so cute! And girl, cook what you would love to eat, who cares about the rest? :)
    I can’t wait for the workshops in the countryside! Count me in already!

  7. Oh my, I do think that being authentic doesn’t necessarily mean being transparent. In my own blog I do share lots of my family, my life and my home and having 3 kids (2 of them twins as you might know) I couldn’t share everything. I’m sure my readers don’t expect me to share those parts of my life when I’m just screaming at my lungs for the girls to stop messing with something or with my boy when is just whining about my (perfect to me at least) scrambled eggs. The fact that I don’t post about that doesn’t make me less authentic.
    As for your blog my sweet Valentina, I’m sure you must know how incredible it is. I do love reading your post and seeing your more than amazing photos so, believe me, that whatever you choose to post it will feel authentic and it will be liked (and loved) by your readers/followers.
    Also, I did love this fantastic and beautiful salad :D
    Sweet kiss.

  8. Kudos to you for your decision! I began my blog writing about everything which was NOT Tuscan, then I slowly evolved into a 99% Tuscan blog, as it is exactly what I eat at home. I keep that 1% for my joyful experiments, as I am an unusual Tuscan girl who has oatmeal or salmon for breakfast, miso soup to comfort me and an insane passion for edamame, sushi and ramen plus Middle Eastern food. I think at the end of the day everything finds a balance, and I feel you have just found yours! :)

  9. So happy you shared this Valentina – I feel the same way. This year I have been living in Canada more than Cyprus because of personal reasons – my dad having passed away in the fall and I am helping my mom out a bit – and I have found it really hard to continue to post Cypriot recipes, when in fact I am not making as many Cypriot recipes, nor have the inclination to while I am in Canada. I have also found that I have shared “less” on my blog as a result, as if I was scared to tell people I wasn’t there at the moment. But reading this post has sort of changed my mind about that – why should I hide what’s going on in my life right now, both food wise and personally. Inspirational, and love your honesty. And, gorgeous pictures and recipe, as always. I’ll be reading along. xxxx

  10. Hi Valentina <3 I love your blog and find your voice very authentic, but I do understand where you're coming from. My own blog is wholefood and plant-based (vegan) but I eat both eggs and dairy in my own life… I do this as I believe plant-based foods are so great and flavoursome and good for you, and I eat this way 70% of the time. I want to show people how interesting this food can be (ie- you don't have to rely on cheese to make vegetarian food taste great!) and it is more inclusive to those who choose not to eat dairy or eggs. But for what it's worth – you can only cook what you love to eat, and your blog should reflect that. I don't mean don't stick to a theme, but give yourself lisence to experiment with flavours and bring in other ingredients you love… You'll make interesting food and I believe your readers will love you for it! There's an essence to Italian food that goes beyond certain ingredients and styles of cooking, is there not? I mean – Pleasure in quality food, seasonality and the good life! You don't have to only eat what you blog, but you have to love the food you blog, that's authentic. Xx

  11. Hi! This is my first time visiting your blog. The photos are so stunning! I love the salad and looking forward for your upcoming recipe

  12. Stunning photos. I am such a huge fan of salad and I really looking forward for your upcoming recipes which you love to cook.

  13. I most definitely understand what you mean about authenticity and flexibility! I’ve begun to just go with the flow of what I always have loved, as well as what I currently and newly love. I too am very open to almost anything especially when it comes to food and cooking, and embracing a little bit of everything if my heart is in it, is the best way to go for me. And and….I’m in looove with your blog!!! I just adore how your photography is a conglomeration of my favorite bloggers like frommydiningtable plus mimithor plus a few others. <3

  14. Ohhh these beautiful photos are speaking to me!!! LOVE!!! I am for one, super excited to see a variety of recipes from you! When I first started my blog, I thought I should start with all the basics like how to toast walnuts, but then I realized there are enough basic recipe out there and I could just link to them. Now I post what I am passionate about making and I am so much happier doing so! xO

  15. “Rather, it has to do with sticking to doing what you love and following your gut instinct, and not become a slave to your own ideals” I do love this thought. So often chefs and cooks lock themselves into an ideal that doesn’t allow for growth and change. I always feel sorry for chefs who have such a strict concept.