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

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


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


  • 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 425˚ 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.