Certain vegetables seem to come in and out of fashion like hairstyles or bell bottoms, or God forbid, bangs. Cauliflower is one of those vegetables that’s getting a lot of attention these days. I’ve always loved it because, probably like most of you, I grew up eating it boiled, mushy but slathered in cheese sauce. Not the most appealing description, I know, but what parent out there hasn’t tried this one to get their kids to eat more vegetables? As an adult, I’ve found that my voracious sweet tooth still finds a way into my cooking and preparing cauliflower in ways that highlights its mild and sweet flavor is one I can certainly get on board with.
As I’ve confessed in the past, I’m not a big fan of lettuce salads, so I often find ways to use crunchier things in my versions of salads to feel like I’m getting something substantial. I’ll also confess, because I’m sure this happens to a lot of people, but eating too much roughage wreaks havoc on my stomach, so cutting that raw and spicy taste that fresh cauliflower tends to have, is something I’ve learned to keep in my bag of tricks. Blanching or roasting cauliflower not only makes my stomach happy, it allows me to keep eating colorful and healthy things even though I may sometimes be averse to it because of the side effects. Not everyone is made with a gut of steel. Kudos to my fellow food bloggers that can rock the salad and smoothie bowls. Just thinking about that much fiber makes my stomach hurt.
This recipe is inspired pretty simply by what looked good one night when I was perusing the produce section of my local grocery store. I don’t always have a plan when I set about creating these recipes, but somehow I know when I’m about to hit on something when I see all the ingredients come together. My life, humorously enough, is a bit like that too, these days.
Sweet chili sauce can be purchased at your grocery store in the Asian or Ethnic aisle. It’s traditionally used as a dipping sauce for things like spring rolls.
If you can’t find mini sweet peppers, substitute your favorite colored bell peppers.
Roasted Cauliflower & Sweet Pepper Salad
1 head cauliflower (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into small pieces
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a pinch to season
2 cups, (about 6 oz) sliced sweet peppers
3 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
3 Tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
4 Tablespoons pepitas
Preheat oven broiler.
Toss cauliflower in olive oil and 1 teaspoon of salt. Place on a baking sheet and roast under the broiler for about 25 minutes. Stir occasionally so all pieces roast evenly. (If your broiler is hotter than 500°, reduce cooking time). Remove from oven and onto a plate and let cool in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare remaining ingredients. Slice peppers, onions, and cilantro.
In a large bowl gently toss cauliflower, peppers, onions and cilantro with sweet chili sauce and lemon juice. Season to taste with additional salt. Top with pepitas. Can be served chilled or room temperature.