Roasted Cauliflower Salad

I love the way apricots & briny olives play off each other in this bright cauliflower salad. It keeps well, so it's a great salad to pack for lunch.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Well, I’ll be honest – these 4:30 Chicago winter sunsets take some getting used to, so I made this roasted cauliflower salad full of bright colors and flavors to make up for it. 🙂 At least that’s what I tell myself as I seriously consider getting one of those vitamin D lamps. Have any of you ever tried one?

Anyway, back to the cauliflower salad! I was going to save this recipe to post in January. You know, once everyone wants to get healthy and eat vegetables again… but then I realized – you’re all here because you love vegetables, holidays or not!! This hearty cauliflower salad doubles as a holiday side dish (I’m bringing it to Christmas dinner) and as an every day veggie meal (I love it for lunch).

Cauliflower Salad Recipe Ingredients

Cauliflower Salad Recipe Components

There are a few components to this recipe, all of which can be made in advance unless you want your cauliflower florets piping hot, in which case, you can roast that at the last minute. Personally, I think this salad is delicious at room temp, and I’ve also eaten it cold out of the fridge (like I said above – it’s one of my favorite recipes to pack for lunch. Find more here!). Here’s what’s in it:

Seasoned French green lentils: Be sure to use French green lentils here. They have a more al dente texture than brown lentils, which, to me, get too mushy for salads. And because I find plain lentils to be very bland, I season them with lemon, olive oil, Dijon mustard, and a good bit of sea salt and pepper. The recipe below makes quite a bit more lentils than you’ll need for this salad, but I like to make a big batch – they’re handy to keep in the fridge for salads during the week. Also, it’s hard to cook a teeny tiny pot of lentils.

Bright, briny things: Pickled red onion and olives (or capers) give a bright pop of flavor that contrasts with the nutty roasted cauliflower.

Creamy tahini salad dressing: Mix together tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and sea salt… done.

Something crunchy: Pine nuts, sliced almonds, or if you’re nut free: pepitas.

Something sweet: Diced, dried apricots or dates round out the nutty/earthy flavors of the cauliflower and lentils. Their sweetness also balances the tartness of the bright, briny things.

Something green: Peppery arugula, because it is a salad after all.

Cauliflower Salad

I hope this one brightens your day! xo

Cauliflower Salad Recipe

If you love this cauliflower salad recipe…

Try my rainbow kale salad, broccoli salad, creamy potato saladroasted beet salad, or Brussels sprout salad next!


5.0 from 8 reviews
Roasted Cauliflower Salad
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
This cauliflower salad is hearty and bright - with pickled onions, arugula, dried apricots and a creamy tahini dressing. Vegan and gluten-free, it's a great make-ahead lunch or holiday side dish.
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4 as a side, 2-3 as a main
Ingredients
Seasoned Lentils (makes quite a bit extra)
  • 1 cup uncooked French green lentils, rinsed
  • 1½ cups water
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • Florets from 1 small head of cauliflower
  • 2 cups arugula
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • Lemon wedges, for squeezing and serving
  • ¼ cup pickled onions (recipe below)
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, sliced almonds, or pepitas
  • 4 dried apricots or dates, diced
  • ¼ cup chopped olives or 1 tablespoon capers
  • Microgreens, optional
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon Tahini Dressing
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • Water, if needed for consistency
Instructions
  1. Make the lentils: In a small saucepan, combine the lentils and water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Drain any excess water, let cool, and then transfer to a medium bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, mustard, and pepper and set aside.
  2. Roast the cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the cauliflower with drizzles of olive oil and pinches of salt and pepper and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned around the edges.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. If necessary, add water, 1 tablespoon at time, to create a drizzleable consistency.
  4. Make the salad: In a medium bowl, toss the arugula and roasted cauliflower with a drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of salt. Spread onto a platter and drizzle ⅓ of the tahini sauce on top. Sprinkle on ½ cup of the lentils, the pickled onions, pine nuts, apricots, and olives. Drizzle with the remaining tahini dressing (or as much as you like) and top with microgreens, if using. Season to taste and serve.
Notes
Tip: Store remaining lentils in the fridge - I like to keep them on hand to add to any quick salad throughout the week.

Pickled Onions:
1/2 small red onion, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
big pinch of cane sugar
big pinch of sea salt
water, as needed

Combine all in a small tight-lidded jar. Add just enough water to cover the onions. Shake, then chill for at least 20 minutes.

 

24 comments

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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

  1. Ali
    12.17.2018

    I’m very excited to make this, it has all the things I love! I’m in Portland, Oregon, where the sun (when it comes out) sets even earlier, and I’ve tried one of those lights, it didn’t do much for me…my favorite thing to cheer up is go in the sauna at the gym!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.19.2018

      that’s a good idea! 🙂

  2. Donna from seasonshealings.com
    12.18.2018

    This looks really great. I think I might bring this to Christmas dinner as well. I love the contrasting flavours.

  3. Megan
    12.18.2018

    Tahini makes anything better.

  4. Katie
    12.18.2018

    I am making this next week for sure! I’ve recently decided to eat more veggie based meals and started browsing your recipes. So far I’ve loved everything I’ve tried and am very impressed. Can’t wait to see how this one tastes too!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.19.2018

      Hi Katie, I’m so glad you’ve been loving the recipes!

  5. KH
    12.19.2018

    I am going to make this for Christmas Eve and am wondering if those are pine nuts on the side?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      12.19.2018

      they’re in the salad… I just set some on the side for the photo – they don’t actually have to be served on the side.

  6. I am so happy to find this blog post, never thought that salad could be this much healthier and delicious. You are awesome.

  7. Neillie Craig
    12.26.2018

    Yumm! The salad looks too good but I think it is missing something. Maybe adding tomato can change the flavour a little bit! What do you suggest Jeanine?

  8. Bryan Martinez
    12.28.2018

    This would be a great recipe to try out for my low carb days! Thank you

  9. Liz
    01.03.2019

    This is delicious!! My whole family loved (& they never agree). And the extra lentils were great add ons for the rest of the week.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.06.2019

      Ha ha, I’m so glad your family agreed on the salad 🙂

  10. Aline
    01.05.2019

    thank you, this is so delicious! I had to improvise a little and used marché lettuce and bits of radicchio, subbed dates for pomegranate seeds, turned out wonderful.

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.06.2019

      Hi Aline, I’m so glad you loved it! I bet it would be delicious with pomegranate seeds!

  11. Allison
    01.08.2019

    I made this recipe last night for dinner. It was so yummy and my husband LOVED it! It’s a great, quick weeknight meal. Definitely will make again 🙂

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      01.10.2019

      Hi Allison, I’m so glad you both loved it!

  12. Maggie
    02.04.2019

    Made this and had it for lunch – it was perfect! Black olives made it magic!

  13. Megan
    02.13.2019

    I love adding tahini to all my salads.

  14. jacquie
    02.13.2019

    I love this salad so much! I’m no cook but everytime i make this i get compliments AND i feel great afterwards. thank you for these great recipes!

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      02.19.2019

      Hi Jacquie, I’m so glad you love this one as much as I do!!

  15. Megan
    02.21.2019

    Tahini makes salads even better.

  16. Christina
    08.18.2019

    If you’re doing this for meal prep (making four on Sunday for the week) would you suggest waiting to dress it until the day it will be eaten?

    • Jeanine Donofrio
      08.18.2019

      Hi Christina, you could dress it – I’d just leave the arugula separate because it’s the only component that will wilt over a few days. Hope that helps!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.