For week 2 of my Vegetarian Challenge, I knew that I wanted a “refrigerator salad.” By that, I mean a salad that I can prepare at the beginning of the week and will hold up well in the refrigerator for several days. Building the salad on a base of cooked grains, using sturdy vegetables, and roasting the vegetables to remove some of their moisture helps this Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad stay fresh like the day you made it, well into the week. I’ve also tested freezing this salad and it freezes SO WELL! Almost unnoticeable changes once reheated.
This recipe was inspired by two of my favorite recipes, Yellow Jasmine Rice and my classic Roasted Cauliflower Salad, so if you’re a fan of either of those, you’re going to love this one as well. I didn’t make a dressing for this salad, because there was already so much flavor going and it was moist enough for my liking, but if you want to try a dressing, I would suggest either the Lemon Turmeric Dressing from my Autumn Quinoa Salad, or the Lemon Tahini Dressing from my other Roasted Cauliflower Salad.
You have several options with this salad. If you want to cut costs even more, you can substitute couscous for the quinoa. Just make sure to use proper amount of liquid, as suggested by the cooking instructions on the package of couscous. Raisins make a great substitution for the dried cranberries, and you can probably use a handful or two of kale, chopped very fine, in place of the parsley. I sometimes have success with spinach holding up in salads like this, so long as the other ingredients are significantly cooled before combining with the spinach.
Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad
- 1 head cauliflower ($3.49)
- 1 small red onion ($0.28)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
- pinch salt and pepper ($0.05)
- 2 Tbsp butter ($0.12)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced ($0.08)
- 1 tsp turmeric ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp cumin ($0.05)
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon ($0.02)
- 2 cups quinoa ($2.39)
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries ($0.29)
- 3 cups vegetable broth* ($0.39)
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds ($0.44)
- 1 cup chopped parsley ($0.45)
- Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Chop the cauliflower into florets and slice the red onion into 1/4-inch strips. Place the cauliflower florets and sliced red onion into a large bowl, along with the olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower and onion until they are well coated in oil.
- Spread the cauliflower and onion out onto a large baking sheet, then transfer them to the oven. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes, give them a good stir, then roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized and the cauliflower is browned.
- Meanwhile, prepare the quinoa. Rinse the quinoa well in a wire mesh sieve. Add the butter, garlic, turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon, to a medium sauce pot. Place the pot over medium heat. Stir and cook the spices for one minute.
- Add the drained quinoa to the pot with the butter and spices. Also add the dried cranberries and vegetable broth. Stir to combine, then place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring it up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let the pot simmer for 20 minutes, with the lid in place.
- After simmering over low for 20 minutes, the quinoa should have absorbed all of the broth. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa. Add the sliced almonds and stir to combine. Allow the quinoa to cool slightly.
- Transfer the cooked quinoa and roasted cauliflower and red onion to a large bowl. Add the chopped parsley and stir until everything is combined. Serve immediately, or refrigerate until ready to eat (can be eaten warm or cold).
See how we calculate recipe costs here.
How to Make Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad – Step by Step Photos
Begin by preheating the oven to 400ºF. Chop one head of cauliflower into florets and slice one small onion into 1/4-inch strips. Place both of them in a bowl and add 2 Tbsp olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss the cauliflower and onion until they are well coated in oil.
Spread the cauliflower and onion out onto a large baking sheet. Transfer them to the oven and roast for 20 minutes, then stir, and return them to the oven.
Roast for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the onions are caramelized and the cauliflower florets are browned.
While the cauliflower is roasting, begin the quinoa. Rinse 2 cups of quinoa in a wire mesh sieve. Add 2 Tbsp butter, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp cumin, and 1/8 tsp cinnamon to a medium sauce pot. Stir and cook the spices in the butter over medium heat for about one minute.
Add the rinsed quinoa to the pot, along with 1/3 cup dried cranberries. We’ll cook the cranberries with the quinoa so they can plump up in the hot liquid.
Finally, add 3 cups vegetable broth to the pot and give everything a brief stir to combine. Place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to medium-high, and bring it up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 20 minutes (with the lid on).
After 20 minutes, all of the broth should have been absorbed. Fluff the quinoa, add 1/4 cup sliced almonds, and stir to combine. Let the quinoa cool slightly.
Add the cooked quinoa to a large bowl along with the roasted cauliflower and red onion, and 1 cup of chopped parsley.
Stir everything to combine, then it’s ready to serve! You can serve this salad warm, or refrigerate it for later and serve it cold.
Crunchy, earthy, and a little sweet, this Roasted Cauliflower and Quinoa Salad will fill you up and keep you full!
Made this as a vegan side dish for Thanksgiving. Really delicious and something I would make again. Next time I would use one cup of quinoa instead of two. I also added lemon zest and juice at the end. It would be good with orange as well. I could also see adding garbanzo beans to make it heartier and a complete meal in a bowl.
So yummy and so easy to prepare! I substituted cranberries with currents as that’s what I had on hand. Thank you for sharing this recipe.! This is a great one for pre-packing healthy lunches for the work week or to take to a party. I have just discovered this site and look forward to trying more from you, Beth!
Oh my ghal I just ate this and my mouth is still watering. This had the perfect mix of flavors (reminds me of your yellow jasmine rice) and textures which I love in a meal like this. At first I thought you just add the cranberries after but then I read you cook them with the quinoa and omg do not skip this step. It adds such a light sweetness to the earthy flavor of the quinoa and caramelized flavor of the onions. So so good. I love meals you can make ahead like this! I’ve been eating the kale and white bean power bowls for a few weeks which I also love but this is a welcomed new party in my mouth!
This has become a weekly staple for me. I personally prefer it with couscous instead of quinoa, but it’s great either way. If I feel like I need some extra veggies, it goes perfect with a simple side salad.
My favorite lunch! I’ve used Beth’s recipe as a base for lots of swaps…
I use couscous instead of quinoa, two heads of cauliflower, raisins instead of currants, and walnuts for almonds. I top it with feta and eat it all week!
It wasn’t hard to put together & had nice flavor! I loved cooking the quinoa in the spices and really infusing it with flavor
The 2 things I would change if I were to make it again is reduce the amount of quinoa so I could make the veggies more the star & to add a bit of heat to cut the sweetness that the cranberries bring. I added a couple of drops of Siracha sauce and that helped bring a great balance of flavor!
I loved this recipe, and so did my picky son – so extra points for that! I accidentally added curry instead of turmeric (because I failed to label the random curry in the jar and just grabbed the yellow/orange stuff). It is delicious with curry! The only thing I would do differently is not add the onions right away when roasting the cauliflower. They turned out too black, which I don’t mind, but visually I’d prefer a lighter color.