Growing up, I always found cauliflower to be quite dull. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, and, like vanilla ice cream, its white color adds to its plain persona. But I’ve been experimenting with this unassuming vegetable lately and have reevaluated its qualities. With a bit of help, it can become quite special – it has a nice texture when sauteed, and has the ability to soak up other stronger flavors.
Although this cauliflower quinoa dish probably looks like it wouldn’t have much flavor, it couldn’t be farther than the truth. With a zesty lemon dressing and cauliflower sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and capers, the dish really shines. The cauliflower retains its sturdiness – in my mind, there is nothing worse than mushy vegetables – and some toasted almonds add a nice crunch. It’s become one of my new favorite quinoa dishes, and this is coming from someone who eats quite a lot of quinoa.
This would make a great side dish, but I also think it’s a nice light main dish as well. It’s great as leftovers and would pack well for lunch, too. There are several ways you could tweak it, too: add some peppery arugula to make it into a salad, or add some chickpeas or white beans for a heartier meal.
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small, flat pieces
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Five large basil leaves, julienned
- ⅓ cup slivered toasted almonds
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions; add the cider vinegar and salt before covering with lid.
- In a large saucepan, sautee the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat; cook about 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is lightly browned.
- Add cauliflower, salt, capers and basil to pan. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until cauliflower is tender but still somewhat firm.
- In the meantime, whisk the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Combine the cooked quinoa, cauliflower, dressing and almonds in a large bowl.
Those extra ingredients sound like they’re more than capable of jazzing up a cauliflower dish. We’ll want to give this a try soon, I’m sure!
Yes, the lemon and capers really jazz up the cauliflower nicely in this dish. Since mom doesn’t like capers that much, you could try it with some kalamata olives instead! Hope you enjoy it 🙂
I have no doubt that this flavorful dish will help you to bury your memories of the overcooked, blah cauliflower that came out of “Blodgett Court Kitchen!” I have some red quinoa from TJ’s that would give this dish an unusual color, kind of like a peppermint stick…
I was thinking that I want to use red quinoa more often, and I bet it would be fun for this dish! I know you don’t like capers much, so you could try some kalamata olives in this instead. Something salty alongside the cauliflower is a nice combination!
Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar says
This quinoa looks lovely! Such a yummy looking recipe – I like that simple dressing 🙂
Thanks, Katrina! I love the dressing too – it’s so versatile and flavorful!
Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health says
I love adding lemon to cauliflower when I roast it so I believe you when say this is a flavorful dish. I love the addition of almonds too; I’m sure it gives it a really nice texture!
Thanks for visiting, Sarah! Lemon is such a great flavor with vegetables, isn’t it? And yes, I love the crunch of the almonds too!
Isadora @ she likes food says
I used to dislike cauliflower too because I thought it had no flavor at all. Thankfully I gave it another chance recently and now I love it! I love putting lemon on pretty much everything and I bet it gives such great flavor to this dish! This is totally something I would make and love 🙂
I’m glad I’m not the only one who used to dislike cauliflower! It needs a bit of help in the flavor department, but is so delicious if you know how to cook it correctly. I hope you enjoy the recipe 🙂
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
Nice recipe, Julia. The ingredients and flavors in this salad are totally up my alley. It’s hard to beat lemon, cauliflower, capers, and quinoa all in one bowl.
Thanks, Katie! I love how quinoa is like a blank slate – it’s so fun to experiment with different flavor combinations alongside it. I’m a big fan of salty things, which is why I love capers so much!
Geraldine | Green Valley Kitchen says
I love cauliflower and adding lemon is a wonderful way to brighten it up. I also love how quick this meal is to make. It looks filling but light as well. Looking forward to trying this, Julia.
Thanks, Geraldine! You are right, lemon is a wonderful way to brighten up a dish. And I love the quick factor too – it’s perfect for a weeknight meal. I hope you enjoy it!
Claudia @Breakfast Drama Queen says
I LOVE how you’ve made cauliflower seem so appetizing! I completely agree – it’s often dull, but this looks great!
Thank you so much, Claudia! I am glad it looks appetizing to you 🙂 I think the lemon and capers really pack in a lot of flavor!
Traci | Vanilla And Bean says
Isn’t funny how some veggies just fly under the radar… but then we find they are so versatile and quite a powerhouse of nutrition. I don’t eat it enough, but when I do, I always love it. Seems like the basil, capers and lemon would really make this dish pop! Thank you, Julia. I really need more cauliflower in my life!!
You are so right, Traci. A lot of veggies do fly under the radar! It’s always a fun challenge to take a “boring” vegetable and make it exciting!
Amanda Paa says
This would be a perfect weeknight meal. And I bet really amazing with preserved lemons too. Great work on the flavor combinations Julia! xo
Preserved lemons sound delicious, Amanda! Thanks for the great idea. And yes, this is one of those easy meals that I love to make on a weeknight!