Roasted Cauliflower Salad

published Mar 12, 2024
Salad Person
Roasted Cauliflower Salad Recipe

Roasted lemon vinaigrette is just a delicious bonus.

Serves2 to 4

Prep15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook30 minutes

Jump to Recipe
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overhead shot of a roasted cauliflower salad in a teal bowl, with a scoop taken from it.
Credit: Photo: Vicky Wasik ; Food Stylist: Rachel Perlmutter

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but salads are not just an assortment of raw vegetables! One of the most common misconceptions with salads is that you have to eat a little pile of leaves. This roasted cauliflower salad says otherwise. Roasting vegetables — cauliflower, shallots, and a lemon here — make the whole thing immediately feel more substantial while adding a lot of textural variety (something I’ve mentioned before). Plus, that roasty flavor goes a long way towards convincing the salad-averse.

This salad is great served fresh, but I also love how it tastes the next day, as the kale and cucumbers only get better with time. And the extra-special touch? A crunchy seed crackle of salty-sweet toasted sesame and sunflower seeds over the top that cooks in the microwave, but makes this salad feel way more special.

Why You’ll Love It

  • This easy salad delivers big flavor and texture in the same amount of time it takes to roast a head of cauliflower.
  • Roasting a whole lemon mellows and concentrates its flavor, making it perfect for a tangy vinaigrette.
  • The crunchy seed crackle topping feels fancy, but it’s made in the microwave in minutes.

Key Ingredients in Roasted Cauliflower Salad

  • Cauliflower. Break cauliflower down into larger (2-inch pieces) so they retain their texture and don’t get too soft.
  • Shallots. Roast half with the cauliflower so they get jammy and caramelized, then keep the rest raw for flavor and crunch.
  • Lemon. Roast lemons with the cauliflower for a deeper, more mellow flavor. Adding the rind to the vinaigrette also adds more depth of flavor.
  • Kale. Use a base of lacinato (or Tuscan) kale to make this salad hearty and crunchy.
  • Cucumber. Fresh and crunchy Persian cucumbers don’t need to be peeled or de-seeded.
  • Seeds. A combination of sunflower and sesame seeds add crunch and nutty flavor.
  • Mint. Fresh mint adds a pop of freshness on top.

How to Make Roasted Cauliflower Salad

  1. Roast the cauliflower. Toss large pieces of cauliflower and shallot with curry powder or another seasoning, spread in an even layer, and roast until browned on bottom and tender.
  2. Prep the greens. While the cauliflower roasts, chop some kale, cucumbers, and more shallots.
  3. Make the seed crackle. Combine sesame and sunflower seeds, honey, and water in a small bowl and microwave until toasted and bubbling, then spread the mixture on a sheet of parchment paper (it will harden into a sheet you can break up into pieces).
  4. Make the vinaigrette. Scoop out the flesh of the roasted lemon into a bowl, then finely chop the skin. Add honey, Dijon mustard, olive oil, and a little vinegar.
  5. Assemble the salad. Toss all of the raw vegetables in the vinaigrette, top with the roasted cauliflower, then crumble the seed crackle over and finish with some fresh mint.

Helpful Swaps

Salad Person is my column dedicated to making better, more delicious salads at home that you’re actually excited to eat. Each month, I’ll provide tips and techniques so you can enjoy them as much as I do — which is a lot! Follow along and find the recipes here.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad Recipe

Roasted lemon vinaigrette is just a delicious bonus.

Prep time 15 minutes to 20 minutes

Cook time 30 minutes

Serves 2 to 4

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium cauliflower (about 2 pounds)

  • 2

    medium shallots

  • 1

    large lemon

  • 4 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    curry powder or smoked paprika

  • 3/4 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed

  • 1 medium bunch

    flat-leaf or lacinato kale (about 10 ounces total)

  • 10 sprigs

    fresh flat-leaf parsley

  • 1

    Persian cucumber

  • 3 tablespoons

    water, divided

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons

    honey, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    raw sunflower seeds

  • 2 tablespoons

    white sesame seeds

  • 1 clove


  • 1 to 2 tablespoons

    sherry or red wine vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon

    Dijon mustard

  • 2 sprigs

    fresh mint


  1. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F.

  2. Remove the leaves from 1 medium head cauliflower. Cut in half and cut out the core. Break the florets into large (2-inch) pieces with your hands or a paring knife (about 7 cups); place on a rimmed baking sheet. Thinly slice 2 medium shallots (about 1/2 cup); place half on the baking sheet. Halve 1 large lemon.

  3. Drizzle 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle 1 teaspoon curry powder or smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper over the cauliflower. Toss until evenly coated and spread into an even layer. Place the lemon halves on the baking sheet cut-side up.

  4. Roast until the cauliflower is tender and browned in spots, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the remaining salad ingredients and make the seed crackle.

  5. Pick the leaves from 1 medium bunch flat-leaf kale and discard the stalks. Tear or chop the leaves into bite-sized pieces (about 5 cups). Pick the leaves and tender stems from 10 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs (about 1 cup). Quarter 1 Persian cucumber lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup).

  6. Line a second baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 1 tablespoon of the water and 2 teaspoons of the honey in a small microwave-safe bowl and stir until the honey is dissolved. Add 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds, 2 tablespoons white sesame seeds, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, and stir to combine.

  7. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir again, and microwave until fragrant and the seeds are toasted, about 30 seconds to 1 minute more. (Alternatively, place all the ingredients in a small nonstick skillet and cook over low heat until fragrant and the seeds are toasted, 5 to 6 minutes.) Immediately scrape onto the baking sheet with a flexible spatula and spread into an even, solid sheet about 1/8-inch thick.

  8. When the cauliflower is ready, prepare the following, adding each to a large bowl as you complete it: Carefully scrape the lemon flesh into a large bowl, discarding any seeds. Finely chop the lemon skin. Finely grate 1 garlic clove.

  9. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, remaining 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon sherry or red wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, remaining 1/2 teaspoon honey, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk to combine. Taste and season with black pepper and up to 1 tablespoon more vinegar as needed. Reserve 2 tablespoons for drizzling.

  10. Add the kale, parsley, and cucumbers to the bowl of dressing, and toss to combine. Top with the cauliflower, then drizzle with the reserved dressing. Pick the leaves from 2 fresh mint sprigs and scatter over the salad, tearing if large. Break the seed crackle up into bite-sized pieces and scatter over the salad.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.