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This Mediterranean-inspired Cauliflower Salad pairs crunchy raw cauliflower with chickpeas and red bell peppers, then tosses them all in a lemon-infused tahini dressing brightened up with fresh mint. You can’t beat the big, bold flavors and contrasting textures in this easy cauliflower salad recipe!
Table of Contents
- Recipe At a Glance
- Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Cauliflower Salad
- Popular Substitutions & Additions
- How to Make Cauliflower Salad
- Tips for Making the Best Raw Cauliflower Salad
- What to Serve With This Healthy Cauliflower Salad
- How to Store Cauliflower Salad
- Frequently Asked Questions
- More Salad Recipes:
- Cauliflower Salad Recipe
Raw cauliflower can be a polarizing ingredient. The pungent flavor and crunchy texture is a little much for some. But I use a secret technique in this raw cauliflower salad to make it more palatable! Like the vinegar in Pink Pickled Turnips, the acid in the lemony tahini dressing helps cut some of the sharp raw flavors in the cauliflower, along with softening the texture just a bit. It’s still crisp and crunchy, but without the bite of cauliflower straight out of the fridge.
When combined with protein-packed chickpeas, red onions, and sweet bell peppers, cauliflower makes a fantastic base for a healthy salad. I do have to admit, though, that the tahini dressing might just be my favorite part! It’s herbaceous and citrusy, and it has that savory, nutty tahini flavor that’s impossible to resist.
Recipe At a Glance
Cuisine Inspiration: Mediterranean
Primary Cooking Method: No-Cook
Dietary Info: Vegetarian, Vegan, Gluten-Free
Key Flavor: Savory, with notes of mint and lemon
Skill Level: Easy
- Bold Mediterranean-Inspired Flavors: This cauliflower salad recipe is packed with big flavors, from the fresh mint leaves to the pungent red onion and bright lemon juice. If raw cauliflower isn’t your favorite, this salad recipe might just change your mind!
- Works as a Side or Main Dish: Use it as a side dish alongside Yogurt Marinated Chicken, or serve it over cooked quinoa or tucked inside pita bread to make it a satisfying lunch.
- Easily Adaptable: As with most salad recipes, this raw cauliflower salad is super versatile! Customize it with your favorite vegetables and add-ins to make it your own.
- Simple to Make: With minimal prep time and simple ingredients, this cauliflower salad is a cinch to make. It’s perfect for a quick lunch or a light dinner, and it keeps well as a meal prep option too!
Ingredients You’ll Need to Make Cauliflower Salad
- Lemon Juice: Lemon adds lots of bright flavors and also helps soften the cauliflower.
- Extra-Virgin Olive Oil: This is a great recipe for using a high-quality fruity olive oil, but any variety you have on hand will do.
- Tahini: Learn more: What is Tahini?
- Cumin: This multi-tasking spice is a staple in cuisines from India to Mexico to the Middle East and beyond!
- Dried Mint: If you don’t have dried mint on hand, you can use extra fresh mint rather than buying a jar.
- Salt and Black Pepper: For seasoning.
- Cauliflower: For a shortcut, you can buy a bag of cauliflower florets from the produce section instead of cutting your own.
- Chickpeas: Also known as garbanzo beans, chickpeas are a great source of plant-based protein.
- Red Pepper: Yellow or orange bell peppers also work, as they have a similar sweet flavor.
- Red Onion: The lemon juice in the dressing will also cut some of the bite from the red onion.
- Fresh Mint: The final ingredient that really ties it all together!
Popular Substitutions & Additions
- Swap out the mint: Cilantro or parsley make great alternatives to mint in this salad if you’re not a fan.
- Make it garlicky: Whisk a clove of crushed garlic into the dressing for another layer of flavor.
- Add some crunch: Roasted almonds, walnuts, or pumpkin seeds make a perfect crunchy addition to this salad. Pomegranate arils are also delicious—they’ll add juiciness and crunch!
- Try lentils instead: Cooked lentils are a great alternative to chickpeas in this salad. I recommend under-cooking them slightly so they hold their shape.
- Roast the cauliflower: Instead of a raw cauliflower salad, start with roasted cauliflower.
- Add olives: Kalamata olives add a savory, briny element to this healthy cauliflower salad recipe.
How to Make Cauliflower Salad
- Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing in a mixing bowl.
- Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat. Let the cauliflower sit a bit to soften.
- Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl.
- Toss again, making sure all of the vegetables are coated in the dressing.
Tips for Making the Best Raw Cauliflower Salad
- Don’t use a large cauliflower. Or, if you do, be sure to measure 6 cups of florets. If you use too much cauliflower, your salad will be less flavorful because there won’t be enough dressing to go around!
- Let the cauliflower soften. Allowing the cauliflower to sit in the dressing for a few minutes will help it soften, cut the raw flavor, and make it much tastier. You can dice the onion and red pepper while you wait!
- Cut the cauliflower into bite-sized pieces. You don’t want to have to use a knife and fork to eat this salad! Plus, smaller pieces will be more flavorful and softer.
- Serve at room temperature. This salad is best served at room temperature, so take it out of the fridge 10-15 minutes before enjoying. The flavors are brighter and bolder at room temp!
What to Serve With This Healthy Cauliflower Salad
How to Store Cauliflower Salad
Store leftover cauliflower salad in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Stir it well before serving.
How Long Will Cauliflower Salad Last in the Fridge?
This raw cauliflower salad will last about 3 days in the refrigerator.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use dried chickpeas in this recipe?
Yes, dried chickpeas will work instead of canned. Follow my tutorial on How to Cook Chickpeas and use 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas in this recipe.
I don’t recommend it. Frozen cauliflower will be much softer and soggier than fresh; you simply won’t get the same crunchy-crisp texture with frozen.
Since this salad lasts up to 3 days in the refrigerator, you can absolutely make it ahead of time! If you’re making it for a party, I’d recommend making it no more than one day in advance for maximum freshness. Be sure to stir it well before serving.
This cauliflower salad is more than just a side dish! It’s a balanced, wholesome, and satisfying meal on its own. With its bold Mediterranean-inspired flavors and nourishing ingredients, it’s a perfect choice for a light, healthy lunch that you’ll actually look forward to eating!
More Salad Recipes:
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- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons tahini
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried mint
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 medium head cauliflower cut into about 6 cups bite-sized florets
- 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 red pepper chopped
- ¼ red onion chopped
- ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
- Place lemon juice, olive oil, tahini, cumin, mint, salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add the cauliflower and toss with the dressing to coat. Set aside to allow the cauliflower to soften with the dressing.
- Add the chickpeas, red peppers, red onions, and fresh mint on top and toss to combine.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate. It will vary based on cooking method and specific ingredients used.