Trust Me, You’ll Be Obsessed with This Smoky, Spicy Cauliflower Salad

I’ve had my fair share of boring salads over the years. Just this week, I ordered a to-go salad at work and was less than impressed by what ended up being little more than leaves and dressing. For me, a salad is an opportunity to not only eat a nutritious meal, but a way to indulge in the textures and flavors of seasonal veg. But just as my lunchtime disappointment proved, salads often go overlooked—and few qualify as a meal on their own. That’s why I pulled out all the stops with this cauliflower salad.

Packed with nutritious ingredients, plant-based protein, and hearty enough to stand on its own, this cauliflower salad combines everything I love in a meal. It’s easy to prep in advance, allowing for a quick, 15-minute assembly when it comes time to eat. Trust me: this cauliflower salad makes your midday meal something to look forward to. Keep reading for tips, tricks, and the full recipe—plus options to customize to your liking.

Ingredients You’ll Need for Cauliflower Salad

  • Cauliflower
  • Hot Sauce
  • Honey
  • Paprika
  • Chickpeas
  • Tahini
  • Kale and Romaine (or any leafy greens of your choice)
  • Feta (or any firm/crumbly cheese)
  • Cucumber
  • Avocado
  • Green Onion
  • Dill
  • Lemon
best cauliflower salad

Cauliflower Salad Meal Prep Tips

When I think of quick lunchtime meals, salads aren’t usually on my list. To make a visually and texturally interesting salad often requires a lot of chopping and ingredient prep. If I’m starving and only have a quick break in between meetings? The kind of salad I’m after usually isn’t in the cards. But with some simple planning and prep ahead of time, you can have this salad ready to go any day of the week.

Prep the chickpeas and cauliflower the night before. Both ingredients can be made ahead and kept in the fridge until ready to use. The best part is that both can also be prepped in the same bowl, made on the same sheet pan, and baked at the same time (re: minimal clean-up required). To help revive some of their texture for serving, warm the cauliflower and chickpeas in a pan over medium heat until crispy. In the meantime, you can toss everything else in a serving bowl. Quick, easy, and delish.

Pre-chop kale. Kale is one of those hearty greens that I prep as soon as I get home from the store. Wash your kale and run it through a salad spinner to dry completely. Slice thinly into ribbons and put into an airtight container with a paper towel to absorb any moisture. Kale will last a few days in the fridge when prepped this way and increases the possibility of me eating a salad for lunch.

Make a jar of dressing at the beginning of the week. This is one of the only regular meal prep things I do over the weekend. Tossing together simple ingredients like tahini, lemon/ACV, honey, and some spices in a jar gives me a delicious dressing that will last the whole week. Plus, it makes everything from bowls to sandwiches to yes—salads—that much better.

How to Make This Salad Your Own

When it comes to salads, there are no hard-and-fast rules. Consider the recipe below a guide that you can play with as you please.

Swap out your greens. Don’t like kale? Use romaine. Don’t have romaine? Arugula works great. Use what you have on hand instead of feeling like you have to use a certain leafy green. (No unnecessary grocery trips here!)

Adjust your spice levels. This cauliflower offers a slight heat that you can play up or dial back as you please. Use your favorite hot sauce and add more if you prefer extra spice.

Use different vegetables. I’m a less-is-more kind of girl when it comes to the veggies I include in my salad. My only rule? They have to work well together. If I don’t have cauliflower on hand, I might sub sweet potatoes instead. I also like sliced celery or red onions for extra crunch and bite.

Add protein. The chickpeas and feta are a great vegetarian source of protein. But feel free to switch it up as you please.

the best cauliflower salad


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This easy lunchtime salad is packed with flavor. Prep the chickpeas and cauliflower in advance for simple assembly when it comes time to eat.

For the dressing (adjust proportions to preference):

  • 34 tablespoons tahini
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • big pinch of salt and pepper

For the cauliflower:

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of hot sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • big pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the chickpeas:

  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained, rinsed, and dried
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • big pinch of salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • kale, sliced into thin ribbons
  • romaine, chopped
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced,
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dill, chopped

  1. Make the dressing. Add the ingredients into a jar and shake to blend until smooth. Taste and adjust to preference. Thin with water as needed. Store in an airtight jar in the fridge.
  2. Prep the cauliflower and chickpeas. Preheat oven to 425 F. In a large bowl, add the hot sauce, honey, paprika, salt and pepper, and olive oil. Stir to combine. Add the cauliflower florets and toss until all florets are coated. Pour the cauliflower onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. In the same bowl, add the tahini, paprika, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Add the chickpeas to the bowl and toss until coated. Either add the chickpeas to the same sheet pan on the other half or to a separate sheet pan. Bake both the cauliflower and chickpeas for about 15 minutes. Toss and flip to ensure even baking, then bake for another 10-15 minutes until the chickpeas are crispy and the cauliflower is golden. Set aside.
  3. Assemble the salad. Add all of the ingredients to a serving bowl. Dress when ready to serve, and add a pinch of salt. Enjoy!
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Category: salad

Keywords: cauliflower, salad, vegetarian

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