Transform your cauliflower from ordinary to extraordinary with our Roast Cauliflower Salad it has fragrant fennel seeds which reminded me of sipping iced ouzo by the ocean and crunchy seeds. It is a warming winter salad that is perfect for potlucks.
While boiling cauliflower makes it bland and boring, roasting it in the oven deepens its flavour and caramelizes its natural sugars making it moorishly nutty and golden.
A great low-carb salad that is suitable for paleo, keto, vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free eaters.
You Will Need
Consider Swapping - the mixed seeds with some fragant Dukkah for some Middle Eastern flair.
💡Top Tips to Avoid Soggy Cauliflower
To avoid soggy cauliflower when making this Roast Cauliflower Salad, follow these simple tips:
- Thoroughly Dry the Cauliflower: Before roasting, make sure to wash and pat the florets dry with a clean kitchen towel or paper towel. Excess moisture can lead to steaming instead of roasting.
- Cut Evenly-Sized Florets: Try to cut the cauliflower florets into similar sizes so that they cook evenly. Larger pieces may take longer to roast and might not cook through completely, while smaller pieces could become overly crispy or burn.
- Use the Right Amount of Oil: Use just enough oil to coat the florets lightly. Using too much oil can create excess moisture and prevent the cauliflower from roasting properly.
- Space Out the Florets: Spread the florets out on the baking sheet, making sure they are not overcrowded. Overcrowding can cause the florets to steam instead of roast. If needed, use two baking trays to ensure adequate spacing.
- Use High Heat: Preheat the oven to a high temperature, around 220°C/425°F, for roasting the cauliflower. High heat will help cook the cauliflower quickly and evenly, preventing it from becoming mushy.
- Avoid Covering the Cauliflower: Leave the baking sheet uncovered, covering it can trap steam and lead to a softer texture.
- Check for Doneness: Keep a close eye on the cauliflower while it's roasting. Check for a golden-brown colour and a slightly crispy texture. Be careful not to overcook it, as this can make it mushy.
- Avoid tough cauliflower by giving it enough time in the oven to cook until it is tender. Simply check the cauliflower before turning off the oven and give it some extra time if needed.
How to Make It
Step 1 - Prepare the Cauliflower
Heat your oven to 220°C / 425°F, and line a baking tray.
Cut off the surrounding leaves from your cauliflower, then cut off individual florets from the central stem and cut again if necessary. You should end up with florets of comparable size so that they all cook at the same pace.
Place in a colander and wash under cold running water. You can reserve the stems and leaves and freeze them to use in soups or stews.
Toss your cauliflower with the oil and spices and arrange it on your baking tray, making sure that your florets are evenly spaced and not touching. Place in the middle section of your oven.
Roast until tender and golden brown, approximately 20 minutes. Check and turn your cauliflower halfway through the cooking process so that it is browned evenly all over. Allow your cauliflower to cool for 10 minutes.
Place your mixed seeds on a tray and roast until golden, taking the tray out and shaking it intermittently so they brown all over (approximately 10- 15 minutes).
Step 2 - Prepare Your Spinach and Dressing
While your cauliflower and seeds are roasting, wash your baby spinach and remove any damaged or wilted leaves, then either pat dry or spin dry in a salad spinner to remove any excess water.
Place the dressing ingredients in a glass jar, season and shake until emulsified.
Step 3 - Assemble Your Roast Cauliflower Salad
Once your cauliflower has cooled, place it in a large mixing bowl, add your baby, spinach, and seeds.
Season with sea salt and cracked black pepper, pour over your dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
Arrange in a salad bowl, sprinkle some additional seeds on top to garnish. Serve and enjoy!
🍽 Serving Suggestions
Add your favourite protein to make it a complete meal, try grilled chicken strips, pulled pork or some crispy tofu.
Tips and Questions💡
What Can I Use Instead of Fennel Seeds?
Fennel seeds come from fennel bulbs and when they are fresh they have a yellowish-green colour and are used whole. Dried fennel seeds can also be used whole or ground to a powder to use as they are a great addition to a variety of spice blends such as Chinese 5 spice powder.
Fennel seeds are readily available in the spice section of your supermarket. If you would like to substitute them you can try anise seeds which have a similar liquorice-like flavour, just use half the amount as they are stronger. Other alternatives would be cumin, caraway seeds and dill seeds.
Can I Use Frozen Cauliflower Instead of Fresh?
While fresh cauliflower is recommended for the best texture and flavour, you can use frozen cauliflower if that's what you have on hand.
Thaw the frozen cauliflower and pat it dry before roasting to remove any excess moisture.
Can I Use Different Greens?
- Baby spinach is a great green to use in this salad because it is subtle enough to not overpower the cauliflower and spices.
- You could also try baby rocket, or try finely chopped kale or thinly shredded silverbeet
Can I Make This Salad Ahead of Time?
- Absolutely! While this salad is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the roasted cauliflower, toasted seeds, and dressing ahead of time.
- Store them separately in airtight containers in the refrigerator.
- When you're ready to serve, simply combine the ingredients, toss with the dressing, and enjoy a delicious and convenient meal.
How to Food Prep for Lunches
- This salad can easily be food prepped for your lunches, just roast your cauliflower and allow it to cool completely before adding the spinach and seeds.
- Keep the dressing in a separate container to add to your salad just before eating.
- To make it a complete meal add some grilled chicken, shrimp, tofu, or even chickpeas all make fantastic protein additions to this salad. They'll add substance and turn it into a well-rounded and satisfying meal.
Try Some More Brassica Salad Recipes
- Salad Spinner
- 1 small cauliflower head (approximately 400 grams / 14 ounces)
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated
- Sea salt & cracked black pepper
- 90 grams baby spinach leaves, tightly packed (approximately 90 grams / 3.2 ounces)
- ¼ cup mixed seeds (I used a mix of pepitas, sunflower and linseeds)
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Preheat your oven to 260°C (500°F). Line a baking tray with baking paper.
- Cut off the stems and leaves of your cauliflower and discard or freeze to use in soups, stews or stocks. Then break your cauliflower into medium sized florets. Wash thoroughly under cold running water, drain in a colander and pat dry with a towel.1 small cauliflower head
- Place your cauliflower, olive oil, fennel seeds and nutmeg on your baking tray then toss well until the cauliflower is well coated with the oil and spices. Place in the middle section of your oven and roast until golden but still slightly firm (approximately 20 minutes) and allow to cool for 10 minutes when done.1 small cauliflower head, 4 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated, Sea salt & cracked black pepper
- Place your mixed seeds on a tray and roast until golden, taking the tray out and shaking it intermittently so they brown all over (approximately 10- 15 minutes).¼ cup mixed seeds
- Wash your baby spinach leaves under cold running water then spin dry in a salad spinner. Transfer to a mixing bowl.90 grams baby spinach leaves, tightly packed
- Place all your dressing ingredients in a glass jar and shake until emulsified.3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- Add your cooled cauliflower, toasted seeds to your mixing bowl with the baby spinach, season with salt and pepper, toss well until combined. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
- Arrange in a salad bowl or salad platter and serve.