This Italian-inspired Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Chickpea Salad makes a hearty vegetarian main course salad or the perfect side dish for grilled meat, poultry or seafood.
Photographing this salad about drove me crazy (and yes, it’s a short drive).
Food photography is like that. There are days everything falls into place–the lighting is perfect, you have the right props and the styling works without having to readjust the subject. And some days not.
The fact that I’m a perfectionist does not help matters. After three attempts over three afternoons, it came down to either me or the salad winning this fight. If at first you don’t succeed, try four times! I was determined to share this salad with you because I’m crazy about this salad!
Cauliflower roasted with nothing more than olive oil, salt and freshly cracked black pepper by itself is to die for. Combining that beautiful, slightly caramelized roasted cauliflower with other flavorful ingredients such as roasted red bell pepper, olives, capers, sundried tomatoes, garlic, fresh parsley, fresh oregano and red wine vinegar in a salad is downright sublime! Chickpeas add texture and for a hearty vegetarian main course salad, add protein.
I had intended for this salad to be served cold or room temperature, however, when the cauliflower came out of the oven, I could not wait for it to cool. I combined it with the other ingredients that were ready and waiting and….wow!
I love to keep a well-stocked pantry with ingredients such as those used here:
- Roasted red bell peppers in olive oil and garlic and roasted red bell peppers in water
- Sundried tomatoes (both packaged dry and in olive oil)
- Various varieties of olives
- Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) and other canned beans
- Vinegar of numerous varieties
- Various forms of canned tomatoes
- Pasta, rice, grains, lentils, etc.
- Good-quality, low-sodium canned broth
- Various ethnic ingredients
When you keep a well-stocked pantry, you can create great meals on the fly. Just add fresh ingredients like vegetables and herbs and you’re ready to roll!
(See my Massaged Kale Antipasto Salad for another great salad made with ingredients you may already have.)
So that the cauliflower does not cool off too quickly prior to serving, make sure all your ingredients are room temperature. If you really want to be frugal, reserve the oil from the roasted red peppers to use in the dressing. I went with a fruity and robust extra virgin olive oil.
This Italian-inspired warm, roasted cauliflower and chickpea salad makes a hearty vegetarian main course salad or the perfect side dish for grilled meat, poultry and seafood.
- 1 large head cauliflower, separated into florets
- 2 tablespoons plus 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (or as needed)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1/2 small red onion, cut vertically into slivers
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano
- 1 can (15-ounce) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 jar (12-ounce) roasted red bell peppers in olive oil and garlic, drained and thinly sliced
- 5 sundried tomatoes in oil, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted and halved Kalamata olives
- 3 tablespoons capers, drained
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, or to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss cauliflower with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season to taste with salt and black pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast for approximately 25 minutes, stirring once or twice. The cauliflower should be nicely browned in places and just tender.
Meanwhile, combine the other ingredients except for the olive oil in a large bowl.
When the cauliflower is finished, fold it into the other ingredient, drizzle with remaining olive oil as needed and serve immediately.