Again, I’m going to rave about another recipe I took from Giada De Laurentiis’ new cookbook Cooking Happy. What can I say? I’m hooked! I just had to try this Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad for several reasons. Cauliflower is a favorite of mine, and quinoa is a great source of protein for any meal and keeps you full for longer. This salad turned out to be quite light, with hints of fresh tarragon and citrus that worked perfectly with the salad additions. This salad would be great to serve for lunch, or as a side to a nice citrusy piece of fish or salmon for dinner. Or, if you’re dieting like me, it works well as a dinner entree too!
All day I was thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner. I wanted a nice fresh salad since I had soup for the last couple meals. I remembered this Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad from Giada’s cookbook and knew I wanted to try it, and that I already had most of the ingredients. So there you have it!
This salad really was fabulously fresh. You know, it’s really hard to elaborate on “fresh” in a more descriptive way, but I’ll give it a shot. The dressing is made of olive oil, vinegar, tarragon, and tangerine zest and juice, so when it was tossed with the greens and delicate quinoa, subtle sweetness came through from the tangerine and the unique “liquorish” aroma of the tarragon. I had thought about buying an orange instead of a tangerine because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to find one, but I’m so glad I did and stuck with the tangerine. I really detected the sweetness from it, which I loved combined with the grapes and almonds.
On another note, cauliflower is awesome isn’t it? It takes on many different flavors so well, and also adds a hearty and almost meaty element to a dish. In this particular salad it paired with the slightly sweet vinaigrette nicely and offered texture and a bite.
One thing that I will mention about Giada’s original recipe was the lack of salt. She lightly salts the cauliflower and the vinaigrette, but really I think the whole thing needed a good pinch. Call me heavy-handed or what have you, but I would have salted the quinoa and added more to the vinaigrette and the cauliflower. And don’t forget a good cracking of fresh black pepper! I also substituted almonds for walnuts because that’s all I had, and actually I think I prefer the almonds! Of course, I also added some red onions because I like onions in everyyythinggg. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find fresh tarragon so I used a teaspoon of dried and a splash of tarragon vinegar. But definitely use fresh yourself if you have it!
I can see this as a great lunch to serve to a friend on a nice warm day outside (I’m dreaming of summer already).
Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad (serves 5)
- 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped into bitesize florets
- 2 cups grapes, halved
- 1/2 cup red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus 2 Tbsp for the cauliflower
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 3/4 cup red quinoa
- 2 Tbsp fresh tarragon
- 3 Tbsp chopped almonds
- 1 tsp tangerine zest
- Juice from one tangerine
- Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the cauliflower in 2 Tbsp olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes or until golden brown on the edges and tender throughout. Remove from oven and let cool. Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package instructions. While the cauliflower and quinoa are cooking, whisk together the 1/4 cup olive oil, vinegar, tangerine zest, tangerine juice, tarragon, and salt. When the quinoa and cauliflower are cooled toss with the dressing in a bowl with the grapes, spinach, and almonds. Add a little pinch of salt and pepper if you want 🙂