Here is a recipe you might have seen if you follow me on Instagram stories. A crunchy, flavorful chopped grain salad is one of my favorite things to prepare to get me through the week and this variation might be my favorite one I’ve made yet.
We’ve had days on end of wet foggy weather here in Dallas. With weather like this I love to be holed up in the kitchen, mindlessly chopping vegetables, and listening to a podcast. I’ve tried tons of new recipes lately, but this salad stands out as a dish worth repeating many times over. I roast half of the cauliflower for this recipe and rice the other half, which makes for amazing depth of flavor and an interesting variation in texture. The carrots caramelize in the oven thanks to a touch of honey before roasting. The earthy flavor of the quinoa and vegetables is wonderfully offset by the bright lemony dressing and a handful of chopped mint. This is a hearty salad on its own, but I have been serving it alongside soft boiled eggs and steamed kale massaged with tahini and lemon for a nutritious filling meal. I had this as my food-on-the-go last week packed in a pyrex container and it was the perfect portable lunch!
This recipe is sort of a by product of me making use of leftover odds and ends in my kitchen, and is thus very adaptable. Have some leftover brown rice languishing in your fridge? Feel free to sub it in for the quinoa. No slivered almonds? Pistachios would be lovely with the carrots! Last week I had some leftover pomegranate seeds and those made a very nice touch to finish this salad. Quick pickled shallots or radishes would really dress this up. But for now I will provide you with the bare bones recipe, to do with what you please!
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp honey (or maple if vegan)
2 tsp za’atar seasoning, divided
1 medium head of cauliflower, divided in half
About 5 medium carrots, peeled if desired
1 cup quinoa
1.5 cups of water
1/3 cup black and green olives, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
A big handful of finely chopped mint
1/3 cup of slivered almonds, toasted
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 clove of garlic grated on a microplane
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
Pinch of cayenne
1/2 tsp honey (or maple for vegans)
Salt and Pepper to Taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. For the carrots, dice into small coins and arrange on a roasting tray. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp honey, and 1 tsp of the za’atar seasoning and stir to coat. Roast for 17 minutes.
For the cauliflower, we are going to roast half and rice the other half. Chop one half of the cauliflower into small florets and arrange on roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp of za’atar dressing and stir to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until tender and browned.
Chop the other half of the cauliflower into large florets and blitz in the food processor briefly until you get a rice like consistency. Don’t over-process or it will get mushy! Add the cauliflower rice to a large salad bowl.
Meanwhile, cook the quinoa. Combine the quinoa and water in a small saucepan with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let stand for 10 more minutes.
For the dressing, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until emulsified.
When the carrots and cauliflower are done roasting, add to the bowl with the riced cauliflower. Add in 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa. Add the olives, herbs, almonds, and then pour over the dressing. Stir well to combine. Serve immediately or the next day. This salad gets better with time!