Cauliflower and brussels sprouts. This pairing may have been your childhood nightmare. But trust me when I say this salad will change things. For years I used to think of cauliflower as the worst part of those generic party-pack vegetable platters. You know the what I'm talking about…those platters with the clear translucent top and a big vat of ranch dressing in the middle. They're a staple at parties or potlucks when someone is too lazy to cook. And no joke - every time - the raw cauliflower is always the last one standing. Merp.
But I'm learning we've had it all wrong: cauliflower really does have more to give. Roasting the cauliflower takes the flavor from meh to amazing. I couldn't believe the oven transforms this vegetable into delicious, caramelized bites of flavor! It's a far cry from the dry, raw blobs that litter party platters. So despite cauliflower's underwhelming appearance as broccoli's pale looking cousin, I decided to give it another chance. Because looks aren't everything, right?!
This humble vegetable is part of the cruciferous family, which includes broccoli, kale, cabbage – and believe it or not, brussels sprouts too! This family of vegetables is often touted for its nutritional properties, which include being a good source of vitamin A, vitamin C and folic acid. With cauliflower being white, it doesn't actually contain vitamin A like the other cruciferous vegetables; but there's plenty of other good stuff like vitamin C, vitamin K and folate. In fact, a single serving of this salad should provide your full daily recommended value of vitamin C.
While the cauliflower is roasting in the oven, you can prepare the brussel sprouts. Or more specifically, brussels sprout leaves. We're about to get fancyyy. I went with brussel sprout leaves because they cook faster and seem fancy (95% because seem look fancy – but hey, just being honest).
To peel a brussels sprout, you'll need to cut off the stem at the bottom. The outer leaves will fall off pretty easily, and then you'll need to start peeling back the other layers. As the brussels sprout gets smaller, you may find that it helps to continue cutting off more of the base to get better access to the leaves. Eventually, you'll have peeled the sprout down so small that you'll start to feel a bit ridiculous. When you start to channel Zoolander ("what is this, a center for ants?!"), you know it's time to stop peeling and move on to the next sprout. When buying brussels sprouts for this recipe, try to pick the bigger ones – it makes the peeling part a lot easier.
Like any good salad this one is also brought together by a tasty dressing that's every bit as important as the dish. Personally I love the efficiency. We'll make use of lemon halves and garlic that get roasted alongside the cauliflower. By the end, they emerge perfectly soft and caramelized. If you've never roasted lemons before, you're in for a pleasant surprise. They get juicier in the oven – so you end up with more lemony goodness! And who doesn't like roasted garlic?
I finished the salad with some sautéed green beans for additional crunch. Then added a sprinkling of capers for some tang, and tossed in some lightly roasted pine nuts for straight up indulgence. I love this dish because it's a warm and comforting salad that can be enjoyed as dinner tonight, and then an awesome chilled lunch the next day. Serve this dish to friends and you'll look real fancy, real quick (true story). It's a dish that'll have you wishing you got on the cruciferous vegetable bandwagon a longgg time ago.
Roasted Cauliflower and Brussels Sprouts
Oven Roasted Veggies
- 1 (2 lb/910g) head of cauliflower, cut into florets
- 3 cloves garlic (with the skin on)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- ½ tsp fine sea salt, divided
- 2 lemons, halved
- ½ lb brussels sprouts (about 10 large)
On the Stovetop
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ½ lb fresh green beans, trimmed
- 1 clove garlic, minced
Lemon Caper Dressing
- *Roasted lemons and garlic (from Oven Roasted Veggies above)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon honey (or maple syrup)
- 2 tablespoons capers
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Black pepper (to taste)
- Preheat: Put the racks in the upper- and lower-thirds of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).
Oven Roasted Veggies
- Cauliflower, garlic, lemons: Add cauliflower and (skin-on) garlic cloves to a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Wrap garlic in foil. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon of salt on cauliflower. Nestle lemons onto the sheet. Bake on the upper rack until cauliflower is golden brown, about 30 minutes, flipping halfway.
- Brussels sprouts: Meanwhile, trim the ends off brussels sprouts. Use your fingers to peel back individual leaves. You may wish to cut off more of the stem as you get closer to the core - it'll help loosen up the leaves. Once you get to the center core, set aside. Repeat. Finely chop reserved cores. Scatter brussels sprouts (leaves and cores) onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and ¼ teaspoon salt. Toss to coat. Bake on the bottom rack and until brown on the edges, about 8 minutes (but watch carefully!).
On the Stovetop
- Pine nuts: Add pine nuts to a skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl to cool.
- Green beans: Return skillet to stove over medium-high heat and add olive oil. Once hot, add green beans. Sauté until beans are tender and some of the edges are blistered, 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Lemon Caper Dressing
- Mix dressing: Peel roasted garlic and add to a small bowl. Carefully squeeze 3 (of the 4) roasted lemon halves over top. Add olive oil and honey. Use a fork to mash the garlic into the dressing. Stir until smooth. Add capers, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper (to taste). Taste and add the remaining lemon if needed.
- Assemble: In a large bowl, add cauliflower, brussels sprouts, green beans, and dressing. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with pine nuts.
- Protein suggestions: Add roasted chickpeas, soft-boiled eggs (halved), or baked tofu.