Sicilian Cauliflower Salad

4.59 from 43 votes
1 hour
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Sicilian Cauliflower Salad is super easy and made with simple pantry ingredients you may already have on hand.  It’s a light and tasty salad that keeps for days in your refrigerator!

Wow! My wife and I couldn’t stay away from it. This awesome salad will be a regular at our table.

Photo of Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in white serving bowl with serving utensils.

The thing that I love most about Italian food and cooking is that hardly anything ever goes to waste.  The Italians find creative ways to make everything stretch!  This salad is inspired by the Italian “reinforcement salad” which exemplifies that no-waste philosophy!

What is Sicilian Cauliflower Salad?

The Sicilian Cauliflower Salad (or Insalata Rinforzata as this salad is inspired by) is often served at Christmastime in southern Italy and Sicily.  I think it’s perfect at any time of the year and especially now because you can make it with things you may already have in your pantry.  Best of all, it holds beautifully!

In the “old days,” it was customary to make this type of salad as an antipasto and then as the holiday season went on, additional vegetables or condiments would be added.

This version is inspired by Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia on PBS who says that if any is leftover you can add things from your refrigerator like carrots or asparagus to give it new taste nuances.

No matter what you call it, I call it delicious!

Photo of Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in white serving bowl garnished with parsley sprigs.

How to make Sicilian Cauliflower Salad:

  • Make a simple vinaigrette of olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice and garlic.
Photo of vinaigrette in glass bowl.
  • Cut a large head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
Photo uncooked cauliflower florets in white colander.
  • Blanch the florets in salted boiling water for approximately 1 minute.
  • Transfer the hot cauliflower florets to a large mixing bowl then pour the vinaigrette over the cauliflower.
  • Give it a stir so that all the cauliflower is evenly coated with the vinaigrette and it “marinates” as it cools to room temperature.
Photo of blanched cauliflower in glass bowl.
  • Add the other ingredients:
    • Diced red onion
    • Diced roasted red bell pepper
    • Halved kalamata olives
    • Capers
    • Diced sun-dried tomatoes
    • Chickpeas
    • Chopped fresh parsley
    • Crushed red pepper flakes
Photo of ingredients for Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in glass bowl.
  • Stir and that’s it!  Adjust to your taste with salt, pepper or a little extra vinegar or lemon juice.
Photo of Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in white serving bowl with serving utensils garnished with parsley sprigs.
Close-up photo of Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in white serving bowl garnished with parsley sprigs.

So good… and the perfect salad to make with all those pantry ingredients you have!  You could also add:

  • Canned tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Pepperoncini or cherry peppers
Close-up photo of Sicilian Cauliflower Salad in white serving bowl with serving utensils.

More cauliflower salads you’re sure to love!

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Sicilian Cauliflower Salad - Overhead close-up shot of salad garnished with parsley sprigs

Sicilian Cauliflower Salad

4.59 from 43 votes

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By: Carol | From A Chef’s Kitchen
Sicilian Cauliflower Salad is super easy and made with simple pantry ingredients you may already have on hand.
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Side Dishes – Salads
Cuisine Italian
Servings 6 -8
Calories 229 kcal


  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar - or more to taste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice - approximately 1 large lemon
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper - to taste
  • 1 large head cauliflower - cut into small florets (7-8 cups)
  • 1/2 large red onion - finely chopped (approximately 1 cup)
  • 1 jar (12-ounce) roasted red peppers in olive oil and garlic - drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
  • 5 sun-dried tomatoes in olive oil - drained and chopped (approximately 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup capers - drained
  • 1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas - (garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes


  • Whisk together the olive oil, red wine vinegar, lemon juice, garlic and salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste in a large bowl.
  • Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil.
  • Drop the cauliflower florets into the boiling water and cook 1 minute. Drain well.
  • Transfer the blanched cauliflower florets to the bowl with the vinaigrette. Toss to coat with the vinaigrette and let cool.
  • When cooled to room temperature, add the next 8 ingredients (red onion to crushed red pepper flakes). Stir to combine.
  • Adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper and additional red wine vinegar if desired.


MAKE AHEAD:  This salad keeps for 3-4 days (at least) in the refrigerator.  Stir from the bottom up before serving.
  • Canned tuna
  • Anchovies
  • Pepperoncini or cherry peppers


Serving: 1 | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 3g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Sodium: 434mg | Potassium: 514mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 348IU | Vitamin C: 77mg | Calcium: 52mg | Iron: 1mg

These are estimated values generated from a nutritional database using unbranded products. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    Holy moly this salad is so yummy! I couldn’t help but taste it while the cauliflower was still a little warm and I ended up eating a whole bowl. A yummy and fresh change of flavor during this cold winter here in Minnesota.

    1. Hi, Joanna, Thanks so very much and so happy you enjoyed it! I know about snowy and cold being from Wisconsin. I really appreciate your taking the time to come back and comment. Thanks again!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve been looking for healthy low carb sides. This one looked ok so I gave it a go. Wow! My wife and I couldn’t stay away from it. This awesome salad will be a regular at our table.

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious! I made this for a party and everyone loved it! The next day I made a muffuletta-style sandwich with the leftovers and a slice of vegan Chao cheese melted on top, served on a ciabatta roll. It was amazing! Thanks for this great recipe!

    1. Hi, Amy, Thanks so very much and so happy you love this recipe! LOVE your idea of putting it into a sandwich. Definitely going to try that. Thanks, again!

  4. 5 stars
    I was a part of the group that cooked from your blog yesterday for our Cookbook Book Club luncheon. I prepared this dish and thought it was excellent and I think everyone who tried it liked it as well. In fact, I think we all really enjoyed each recipe that was prepared from your blog. I have a husband who says he doesn’t care for cauliflower, but he liked this salad. I am so glad we cooked from your blog, I will be trying many other of your recipes; they all look great.

    Carolyn Haley

    1. Hi, Carolyn, Thanks so very much and it means everything to me that you all enjoyed my recipes. I really appreciate hearing from you and happy you all enjoyed this salad, too! Thanks again!

  5. 5 stars
    This salad is very tasty! Definitely a keeper. I added artichoke, extra roasted peppers and sundried tomatoes. Would be great with olives but I did not have any. I used 4 large cloves of garlic and it was not too much. I added a little extra lemon to the vinaigrette which was very nice too. I made it early morning and the flavours melded and improved during the day. We are the leftovers 2 days later and it held up well and tasted even better. Thanks for a great recipe.

  6. 5 stars
    This was so so delicious. I ate it on a lettuce salad and also on top of slightly warmed rice. Will be making this often, loved the flavors and texture.

  7. Hi, Lori, Thanks so very much and glad you enjoyed! This salad is definitely versatile and love that you added artichoke hearts; they’re one of my favorite things in life. Thanks again!

  8. 5 stars
    Amazing recipe! This was so good. I omitted sundried tomatoes because I don’t like them. I used up all of my leftover jars of kalamata olives, roasted red pepper and capers. I had some artichoke hearts so I added that too. As usual, it’s better the next day. This will be in heavy rotation at my home. Thank you!

  9. Curious….have you ever tried this with broccoli? I’m not a cauliflower fan but the recipe looks amazing!

  10. I just dropped by to tell you this cauliflower salad is gorgeous, and I think I’ve got everything to give it a try. A well-stocked pantry is such a good thing right now! Beautiful, and thanks!