Caramelized Cauliflower Salad

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Caramelized Cauliflower Salad with Quinoa

When it comes to recipes, I love ingredients that come together to form a great base. I want to be able to add as I see fit and be encouraged to play a bit with the recipe. There are of course exceptions but in my day to day routine, I'm more up for throwing something similar to the recipe together rather than follow something completely. This recipe is one of those great recipes to build. The caramelized cauliflower is the main flavor that's paired with a smoky roasted pepper and light lime vinaigrette. It's the perfect lunch for at home or make up a big batch and eat this cauliflower salad a few days at work. See below for a few of my favorite variations or if you try a combination and have your own- I'd love to know!


Caramelized Cauliflower Salad

An easy and flavorful cauliflower salad that comes features a tangy lime dressing paired with caramelized cauliflower and roasted red peppers.

  • Author: Erin Alderson
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 30 mins
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 4 salads 1x
  • Cuisine: salad


  • 1 medium head cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 red peppers (see note)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup minced cilantro
  • 1/4 cup minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey or vegan sweetener
  • 1/4 cup toasted pepitas


  1. Preheat oven to 425หš F. Cut cauliflower into bite-size florets. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Place on a baking tray along with whole red peppers. Roast, turning/stirring occasionally, until cauliflower is caramelized and peppers charred: 25-35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.Remove the skin from the roasted red pepper and dice.
  2. Rinse quinoa and combine with 1 cup water in a medium pot. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for until water is almost fully absorbed, about 12-15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and let sit until remaining water is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  3. Combine quinoa, cauliflower, and roasted red pepper in a bowl. Add cilantro and parsley to quinoa mixture.
  4. To make dressing, combine olive oil, lime juice, and honey in a jar with liquid. Shake until combined. Pour on salad and toss until combined. Taste and add more salt as desired. Add in the pepitas right before serving.


Tips & Tricks: Often during the winter I will use jarred red peppers instead of fresh peppers.

To make vegan, omit the honey or use your favorite substitute.

Stock up: get the pantry ingredients you will need: cauliflower, red peppers, quinoa

Nutrition: See the information.


  • Calories: 333
  • Sugar: 14.3
  • Sodium: 35.3
  • Fat: 19.4
  • Carbohydrates: 35.3
  • Fiber: 6.4
  • Protein: 9.1
  • Cholesterol: 196.9

Variations for the Cauliflower Salad

As mentioned in the introduction, this cauliflower salad makes for a really nice base to add in any extras you might like. You could even change the flavor profile of the salad by leaving out the cilantro completely and using lemon in the dressing instead of lime.

Legumes: As a couple commenters have done, chickpeas make a really great add to this salad. I recommend toasted the chickpeas to add a slight crunch to dish.

Cheese: Goat cheese and feta can be added, depending on the type of cheese you like. If you switch to a lemon/parsley flavor, I highly recommend tossing in a bit of feta.

Grains: I find myself using quite a bit of quinoa primarily because it cooks up quickly. However, any precooked grain would work here including millet, einkorn, or sorghum.

Cauliflower |

Featured Ingredient: Cauliflower

Roasting cauliflower is my favorite way to prepare this hearty vegetable. I recommend roasting cauliflower to use in these recipes as well.

Roasted Thai Cauliflower with Pearl Couscous
Curried Cauliflower Pizza
Cheddar Cauliflower Gratin
Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad

Caramelized Cauliflower Salad with Quinoa and Roasted Red Pepper

|| Recipe originally published on May 23rd, 2013. Last updated on January 2nd, 2016.

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34 comments on “Caramelized Cauliflower Salad”

  1. Whoa. You pretty much nailed my perfect meal. I'm crazy excited to try this out - a sure win! ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. This looks amazing! I'm always looking for good cauliflower recipes!

  3. Ooh, I love new-to-me vegetable combinations. Roasted cauliflower *is* delicious, and I have cilantro growing in my garden, so this is going on the to-make list!

  4. Ok I am 100% making this! Caramelized cauliflower - oh my!

  5. I noticed the change to some pins over the weekend and was so curious! This really does make it so much more useful to track your recipes on Pinterest, Erin - great news! I'm loving the lighting in these pictures - gorgeous!

  6. Gorgeous! I love roasting cauliflower as well. It's good in just about everything! And the cilantro dressing sounds like the perfect compliment!

  7. Mmmmm! Made this last week, it was so delicious! Even had some scrumptious leftovers for the next day's lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. made this a few days ago, added some caramelized carrots with ginger and the suggested goat cheese... it was amazing!!!
    I had no idea cauliflower could be so delicious. Completely different than cooked...

  9. What a great idea!I substituted ww cucous for the quinio and added some brussel sprouts, olives, pepita leeks, and some blue cheese, so yummy!

  10. I made this-- so lovely. Unfortunately I used a (crappy) shortcut of using bottled lime juice and it got toooo sweet. Live and learn.

  11. This was very tasty and easy to make. I added some goat cheese and pumpkin seeds as suggested. Also delicious the next day. Thank you for the recipe!

  12. I made this tonight - so delicious! This is quickly becoming one of my favorite food blogs. Thanks for everything!

  13. Made this tonight - delicious! Love the dressing! I added in chickpeas and feta.

  14. This looks incredible. I love anything with cauliflower and am always looking for new recipes, but haven't seen anything like this. Thanks. Will definitely be trying this. Love your photos too.

  15. I made this today. I usually try to make recipes more Italian so I substituted farro for quinoa, pistachios for pepitas, lemon juice for lime juice, balsamic vinegar for honey, and omitted the cilantro. It was very good. Thank you.

  16. I am just getting into cauliflower ( I know I am behind the 8 ball) and this recipe looks delicious. Adding it to my list for sure!

  17. I just realised I forgot to add the dressing to this and it was STILL yummy. Never mind - I have enough for lunch tomorrow and will try out the dressing then ๐Ÿ™‚


Welcome to my little internet nook. On this site you'll find over a thousand vegetarian recipes, pantry knowledge, and more. I'm ever obsessed with food from gardening, cooking, and preserving. I hope you'll find endless inspiration on these pages and visit often. 

Virtual hugs, Erin (aka: e.l.l.a.)

a few good grain recipes

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