Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad
With the exception of football season, during which I make things like sliders and chicken fingies to avoid watching the foose, I don’t spend much time in the kitchen on weekends. Saturday’s meals are typically exercises in becoming a “regular” at local spots (To the staff at Jeffrey’s Grocery: How much booze and avocado toast must Logena consume to get a recognition head nod?! Please advise.), and Sundays are reserved for more experimental brunches and Spunto on the couch.
The two-day break from culinary pursuits and mass quantities of pizza help recharge my domestic batteries, and come Monday a.m., I’m more than happy to be back in “the office.” In fact, few things excite me more than kicking off my week with a fresh grocery haul and the promise of some quality kitchen time with my TV besties of the moment.
(For those of you wondering, I’m pretty tight with the Bachelor in Paradise crew these days, and I’ve been reuniting with Tim Riggins more often than I’d like to admit.)
For years now, Monday has been
pizza recovery “smart and pretty” day at Domesticate ME! HQ, which mandates green drinks, a face mask or two, and at least one fully loaded recovery salad. The latter typically involves lots and lots of massaged kale topped with as many superfoods as humanly possible, but every once in a while, I like to go rogue. Just throw caution to the wind and get down with my bad salad-making self, you know? You know.
Enter: Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad.
This showstopper was actually inspired by a salad I had a few weeks ago from Westville, my longtime go-to for delivery on nights when I decide to shirk my dinner duties. I can honestly say that the menu description didn’t come close to doing that veggie masterpiece justice. The salad was loaded with baby kale, romaine, and summer vegetables, and topped with cauliflower florets that had been roasted to tender, buttery perfection and then tossed with a fiery barbecue sauce. I completely lost my shit after the first bite. Sweet, savory, tangy, smoky—dear God. There were so many flavors involved, yet they all seemed to complement each other beautifully. Don’t even get me started on the layers of texture because the white girl in me just CAN’T EVEN. My roommate was also on board, and you know that’s saying a lot.
So, the following Monday, I bypassed my usual bowl of kale in favor of recreating Westville’s magical BBQ cauliflower salad with a few tweaks (i.e. adding a cumin-citrus dressing and plenty of avocado), and it’s been heavy in the rotation ever since.
I like this vegan smorgasbord for lunch or as a “cleansing” dinner, but it doubles as a killer a side, so please consider adding it to your Labor Day weekend menu. It’s perfect for serving alongside your favorite grilled meat or fish, especially cilantro-lime grilled chicken, grilled herb shrimp, and marinated skirt steak. And keep in mind that you can prep the salad several hours in advance—just keep the BBQ cauliflower separate and wait to rose/slice your avo—and then dress it whenever you’re ready to serve. Excellent news for those who prefer to spend the early evening hours cocktailing rather than cooking. (Heyo, kindred spirits!)
Just one quick note on presentation, peeps. As you can see from the above glamour shots, I took an extra 5 minutes to arrange all the festive salad ingredients in a very fancy pattern because a.) it looks pretty, and b.) I live for opportunities to flaunt my avocado rose skills. I obviously encourage you to follow my lead and indulge your inner food stylist, but should you wish to act like a normal human and simply toss all of the salad ingredients together, I promise not to judge. #youdoyou
Howeva, if you do decide to go the decorative route and need avocado rose advice, don’t hesitate to reach out to your weird blog lady. I have endless hacks and bookmarked tutorials that I’m more than willing to share…
Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad: (Serves 4)
1 small head cauliflower, broken into florets
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
Fresh ground pepper
2 ears sweet corn, kernels removed (about 1½ cups kernels)
1/3 cup barbecue sauce of your choice
3 cups chopped romaine hearts
3 cups baby kale
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
6-8 mini sweet peppers, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds removed (or 1 red bell pepper, diced)
1 small avocado, thinly sliced or diced
For the Cumin-Citrus Dressing:
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Juice of ½ lemon
1 teaspoon honey or agave
1 large garlic clove, grated or finely minced
Pinch cayenne pepper
3 tablespoons avocado oil
Preparing your Roasted BBQ Cauliflower Salad:
-Pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment.
-Place the cauliflower florets on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of the olive oil, sprinkle with a generous amount of salt and fresh ground pepper and toss to coat. Arrange the florets in an even layer, making sure to leave a little bit of space between each one. (The spacing is essential, peeps! If you crowd the florets, they’ll steam instead of getting crispy and caramelized.)
-Roast for 25 minutes until tender and lightly browned.
-Meanwhile, heat the remaining ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the corn kernels and cook for about 5 minutes until tender and lightly browned. Transfer to a bowl to cool slightly.
-Place all the ingredient for the dressing in a small mason jar and shake vigorously until emulsified. (You can also just whisk all the ingredients in a mixing bowl.) Briefly set aside.
-Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a mixing bowl. Add the barbecue sauce and toss to coat.
-Time to assemble your salad. You have two options here. 1.) Add all the salad ingredients except the barbecue cauliflower to a large bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to coat. Top with the barbecue cauliflower and serve. OR 2.) Make it all pretty like I did. Toss the romaine hearts and kale with half the dressing and place the dressed greens in a serving dish or on a platter. Arrange the sweet peppers, corn, tomatoes, cauliflower and avocado in stripes on top of the greens. (You can also add the avocado in rose form if you’re feeling SUPER FANCY.) Drizzle with the dressing and serve.
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