Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a hearty and satisfying warm salad that combines the simple comforts of roasted cauliflower with fresh vegetables and herbs – all dressed in a scrumptious lemon coriander dressing.
Winter friendly salads are all the rage right now, and we especially love them in my kitchen. Here, roasted root vegetable side dishes often do double duty as leftovers in salads like this Wheat Berry Harvest Salad. Winter hardy vegetables like kale become blank canvases for tasty vinaigrettes and fruit in a Massaged Kale Salad.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Winter salad recipes featuring root vegetables and hardy cruciferous vegetables like kale and cauliflower may take a bit more time and effort to prepare but the payoff is substantial. These vegetables pair well with seasonal citrus, legumes, and earthy flavours from wheat berries and other whole grains.
As a rule, hardy vegetables make robust salads. This gluten free cauliflower salad is the perfect ‘make ahead’ salad for meal prep days. It will keep in the fridge for the week and improves in flavour the longer it sits.
This Roasted Cauliflower Salad checks all the boxes for the ideal winter salad. It’s full of earthy flavours from the roasted cauliflower and lentils complimented with bright herbal notes from the spinach and parsley. Finally, the delicious coriander scented vinaigrette allows all the earthy flavours to shine. If salads are your comfort food, grab yourself a bowl and dig in!
Ingredients for Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Although you can substitute other vegetables from the Brassica family in this salad, I find that cauliflower adds a beautiful visual and flavour contrast to the other salad ingredients.
- Olive Oil
- Red Bell Pepper
- Dijon Mustard
I always have leftover rice in my fridge, so I find it a handy addition to this salad. You can use any variety of rice here. We use basmati but brown rice and even wild rice would be fabulous in this salad. Feel free to omit the rice or add your favourite cooked grain to this salad.
Lentils are easy to store, quick cooking, and provide numerous health benefits. I recommend keeping dried or canned lentils in your pantry to add to soups, stews, and salads. Lentils that retain their shape after cooking (French Puy lentils or Black Beluga Lentils) work the best in this recipe.
Choose any colour of bell pepper (except green) for this recipe. Yellow and orange are almost as sweet as red bell peppers but green will be too strong in flavour. Instead of baby spinach, try adding other baby salad greens such as arugula and kale.
Feel free to use flat Italian or curly parsley in this salad if it is fresh and not dried. Alternatively, try fresh Cilantro, to match the coriander flavours in the vinaigrette.
The vinaigrette is quite simple. It features extra virgin Olive Oil and fresh lemon juice. Feel free to zest the lemon before you juice it, then throw the zest in as you are giving the salad a final toss. Dijon mustard adds that extra ‘zip’ and aids in emulsifying the vinaigrette.
Dried ground coriander can be a touch overpowering, so it is important to taste and balance the salad as you go. Add as much or as little as you like and don’t forget to season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
How to Choose and Store Cauliflower
With produce prices soaring, it is even more important to select the best head of cauliflower. If you keep these tips in mind while shopping, you can choose cauliflower while it’s the most nutritious and reduce food waste.
- Colour – Look for creamy white cauliflower, free of yellow or grey blemishes.
- Odour – The cauliflower should be mostly scent-free. A strong smell indicates that the cauliflower is old and beginning to decay.
- Weight – Hold the head of cauliflower in your hand and compare it to others. It should feel heavy and full for its size. More weight means more water and more moisture indicates a fresher head of cauliflower.
- Firmness – The florets should be packed tightly together and the whole head should be firm, not spongy.
- Leaves and Stem – The leaves and stem of fresh cauliflower are plump and vibrant, not dried out or wilted.
- Packaging – Most cauliflower comes in plastic packaging. Be sure there isn’t excessive moisture within the package as you may find mold when it is removed.
A head of carefully selected raw cauliflower will last for up to a week in your fridge when stored properly. When you return home, remove the tight plastic packaging, and dry the cauliflower as needed.
Place the cauliflower in a loose plastic bag or produce bag and store it for up to a week in the fridge. Note that cauliflower cut into florets will not last as long. As with most produce, do not wash the head cauliflower before storing.
How to Make Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Good news! You don’t have to be a chef to make this salad. If you can roast veggies, shake a jar of vinaigrette, and toss a salad, this is the salad recipe for you. The first step in this roasted cauliflower salad recipe is roasting the cauliflower (surprise!).
Tips for Roasting Cauliflower
The most important factor for roasting any vegetable is oven temperature. Preheat the oven to 400 F (or 425 F). The high heat hits the outside of the vegetable and converts the vegetable sugars, resulting in golden caramelized florets while the inside of the vegetable cooks slower and remains tender.
Prepare the cauliflower by cutting it into uniformly sized florets. They should be just larger than bite sized as they will shrink during cooking and end up being exactly the right size after roasting.
The next key to perfectly roasted cauliflower is olive oil. Add the cauliflower florets to a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Toss the florets well to ensure they are all coated with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Finally, take care when arranging the cauliflower in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Leave plenty of space between each floret to encourage hot air flow and ensure even cooking.
Roast the cauliflower on the sheet pan for a minimum of 20 minutes. Flip it over, then roast longer if you like. The cauliflower is done when a fork glides through the floret stem. However, you can add more time and caramelize the cauliflower for longer. More caramelization always equals more flavour!
How to Make the Vinaigrette
You can make this simple vinaigrette using a small bowl whisk and elbow grease, but I prefer to make it in a small mason jar. It’s as simple as placing all the ingredients in the jar, screwing the lid on tight, and shaking until it becomes emulsified.
Putting it all Together
While the cauliflower is roasting, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare the other vegetables and components. Wash, deseed, and dice the red bell pepper then wash and dry the baby spinach and fresh parsley using a salad spinner.
Next, drain and rinse the canned lentils. As each component is done, add it to the large bowl you used for the cauliflower. Finally, add the roasted cauliflower, drizzle the vinaigrette over the ingredients and toss it well. Serve the warm salad right from the bowl or place it in a serving bowl for a fancier occasion.
This salad will keep for up to 5 days in the fridge.
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Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Roasted Cauliflower Salad is a hearty and satisfying warm salad that combines the simple comforts of roasted cauliflower with fresh vegetables and herbs - all dressed in a scrumptious lemon coriander dressing.
- 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- 1 medium head cauliflower; cut into florets
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1-15 oz can lentils; drained and rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper; small diced
- 2 cups baby spinach; chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley; chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE DRESSING
- 1/3 cup Olive Oil
- 1 lemon; zested and juiced
- 1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- salt and pepper; as needed
- Preheat oven to 400 F or 425 F, if preferred.
- Separate cauliflower into larger than bite sized florets and place in a large boil. Drizzle with olive oil and toss well so that all florets are coated in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
- Arrange florets on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. Flip the florets over and roast for more time according to how caramelized you want the cauliflower.
- While the cauliflower is roasting, dice the red bell pepper chop the spinach and parsley. Place them in the large bowl and season with salt and pepper.
- Add the drained lentils and rice to the bowl.
- Zest and juice the lemon. Place the dressing ingredients in a small mason jar and shake well.
- Once the cauliflower is fully roasted, add it to the bowl with the other salad ingredients and drizzle the dressing over all.
- Toss the salad until ingredients are well combined with the dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
Amount Per Serving:Calories: 276Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 192mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 9gSugar: 4gProtein: 10g
Nutritional calculation was provided by Nutritionix and is an estimation only. For special diets or medical issues please use your preferred calculator.
I love how easy, tasty, and healthy this dish. I enjoyed it so much!
Thanks Amy. It is a favourite in our home too.