Cauliflower Pomegranate Kale Salad
September 30, 2014

If you’re looking for a festive and filling vegan side dish for holiday gatherings, look no further than this cauliflower pomegranate kale salad! It’s colorful, hearty, and nutrient-dense. 

A shallow plate holds a festive, colorful salad of spiced, roasted cauliflower, raw kale, and pomegranate seeds.

Salads that appear on holiday tables can sometimes feel like an afterthought. Bowls of dressed lettuce that are really there to offset the richness of the rest of the meal. Not so with this cauliflower pomegranate kale salad! It’s full of texture and flavor, and the spice roasted cauliflower gives it lots of substance.

Creating a substantial holiday side salad

There are lots of plant foods you can use to create salad toppings that are, for lack of a better word, “meaty.” Mushrooms are a popular option. So are tofu and tempeh. But there are less obvious contenders for adding heft, too. A few of my favorite ideas:

-The walnut and lentil meat from my heat free lentil and walnut tacos

Roasted chickpeas

White bean or tofu bulgur meatballs

Chickpea oat balls

-Crumbled veggie burger

Roasted root vegetables

-Bread or cornbread (the panzanella treatment)

Beans (one, or many!)

There are plenty more ideas in my primer on how to build a meal sized salad, as well as my primer in creating a perfect vegan lunch bowl.

And now, roasted crucifers are going to be a new “meaty” option for in salads.

Cauliflower isn’t protein-rich in the same way that quinoa, tempeh, or crumbled veggie burgers are. But it has a crispy, satisfying texture that elevates a salad from a vegetable medley to something substantive. With the right seasonings and spices, it can be a terrific salad topper.

Preparing cauliflower pomegranate kale salad

It’s always helpful to have make-ahead options when preparing holiday dishes. This one lends itself nicely to advance meal prep. You can roast the cauliflower in its spice rub one, two, or even three days in advance of tossing and eating the salad.

It’s also helpful to prepare the kale for this, or any other kale salad, ahead of time! De-stemming, washing, and drying raw kale always takes me about ten minutes. I’m never sorry to have done it immediately after I bring my groceries home. I generally store my raw, chopped kale in a produce bag with a damp paper towel (this helps to keep the kale crispy and fresh).

Once the kale is roasted and the veggies are prepped, it only takes minutes to whisk together the dressing, dress the salad, toss, and enjoy.

Spice roasted cauliflower florets sit on top of a bed of kale, purple cabbage, and pomegranate seeds. All part of a festive vegan holiday salad.

A shallow plate holds a festive, colorful salad of spiced, roasted cauliflower, raw kale, and pomegranate seeds.
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Cauliflower Pomegranate Kale Salad

Author - Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut into florets and pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • Dash Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon maple or agave syrup
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 small bunch curly kale, de-stemmed, washed, rinsed, and chopped
  • 1 cup shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 425. Toss the cauliflower florets with two tablespoons of the olive oil in a large mixing bowl, and then add the paprika, coriander, cumin, pepper flakes, and a generous pinch of salt. Mix until the cauliflower is evenly coated with the spice rub. Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is browning and crispy at the edges and tender when pierced with a fork or knife. Set the cauliflower aside.
  • Whisk the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil together with the lemon juice, agave, nutritional yeast, and some salt and pepper to taste for a quick vinaigrette. Massage the vinaigrette into the kale, working until the kale is wilted and evenly coated.
  • Add the purple cabbage and the roasted cauliflower to the kale. Toss to combine. Sprinkle with pomegranate arils and serve.

Will cauliflower pomegranate kale salad keep in the fridge?

It will. One of the things I love most about kale salads is that they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for a couple of days. Kale is hardier than most salad lettuces. Unlike mesclun greens or lettuce, it becomes more palatable after a good vinaigrette has helped to wilt it down.

If you do store leftovers of this salad, I recommend storing the pomegranate arils separately. Simply toss them on top of the salad before you eat.

A serving plate is topped with vegan cauliflower pomegranate kale salad—a colorful mix of spice rubbed cauliflower, kale, purple cabbage, and pomegranate seeds.

As it is, this is a great side dish for a vegan holiday feast. It works nicely with any main protein. It’s also a really nice accompaniment to a whole grain dish, like a pilaf or a wild rice stuffing. If you’d like to turn it into more of a main dish, you could add some of my mustard baked tempeh, lentils, or chickpeas.

No matter what—whether it’s a holiday thing, a wintertime thing, or an anytime thing—I hope you’ll enjoy this phytonutrient-packed, flavorful recipe!

xo

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    12 Comments
  1. This sounds so good. I think an easy way to bulk it would be to simply add cooked chickpeas to the bowl with the cauliflower and let it get in on that spice rub action! Then just roast the cauliflower and chickpeas up together. Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. I love roasted cauliflower in all ways! I did roasted cauli slabs with chimmichurri as a main for a holiday that was great.

    Please
    Please
    Please
    Always add notes about how to make a meal more filling or complete! I love sharing your recipes with my omni friends but i swear their first reaction is always either “well, as an appetizer maybe, i’d still be hungry” or some kind of grumble about adding an omni protein on top…! Gah!! NO!!!
    I also think that without a notation its implied the dish is a full meal, and readers may feel like they are somehow wrong for wanting or needing more to be full.

    Ps
    I used your walnut lentil taco meat in enchiladas last week and they were a big hit with my omni friends :))

  3. Love the salad, love roasted cauliflower, LOVE balance your plate 🙂
    I will be having this soon with some quinoa/chickpeas/tempeh. All sound yummy to me 🙂

  4. Roasted cauliflower plus plenty of kale sounds like the best possible salad for fall! I love the idea of adding crunch and tang with pomegranate too.

  5. Wow this is a beautiful dish! Apart from the oven bit, this sounds like a delicious idea of our Holstee dinners in Brooklyn 🙂

  6. This looks amazing !! I love the flavors of kale and pomegranate- yum!

    I’ll have to give this a try and thanks for the NuZest giveaway!! The cappuccino is so good! I’d love to have more:)

    Lots of love!!:)

  7. I am a roasted vegetable fanatic, but I still have not tried roasted cauliflower! I have a head of it in the fridge that looks perfect for this recipe.

  8. Roasted cauliflower is probably one of my favorite things…ever. Oftentimes I’m too lazy to roast my own (even though it’s embarrassingly easy) so I get the roasted cauli from Whole Foods. Ahh, it’s so good. But yours sounds even more amazing with all the spices!