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This cauliflower salad bursts with flavor! A creamy dressing complements the crisp cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes add tang, and toasted pine nuts bring a delightful crunch.

Cauliflower Salad
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Here’s a fun summer salad to infuse any meal with flavor: cauliflower salad! This one is so much fun, sort of like a mashup of Mediterranean-style flavors with a retro barbecue salad. The raw florets are covered in a tangy, creamy dressing and mixed with peppery arugula, tangy sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts! Delish.

Why we love this recipe: This salad is fresh, delicious, and nostalgic all at once! We first served it at a pizza party outdoors, and it was the perfect side for pizza along with a fresh green salad. Since then we’ve made it for cookouts, barbecues, and lunches: and it’s always a huge hit! The toasted pine nuts add that extra sparkle.

“Oh my goodness this cauliflower salad!!! Raw cauliflower isn’t my pick on a veggie tray, BUT THIS SALAD! The flavors all meld together so wonderfully. The sun-dried tomatoes add such a nice tang and work really well with the dressing. This is just a superb recipe overall.” -Tanvee

“I love how easy it was and I had all the dressing ingredients in my pantry so it was super quick to put together! I ate a bowl right away and I love the tanginess of the mustard in the dressing.” -Amanda

Ingredients in cauliflower salad

One fun thing about this cauliflower salad is that it stars raw cauliflower! No need to spend time cooking it: throw it all in this tangy dressing and it tastes incredible. The dressing balances out the bitterness you might sometimes sense from the raw vegetable. Here’s what you need:

  • Cauliflower: Raw cauliflower has a satisfying crunch.
  • Creamy dressing: A tangy, savory dressing binds the ingredients together, made with mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon, sugar, Dijon, and salt.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes: These bring a burst of sweet-tart flavor and a chewy texture.
  • Arugula: Arugula adds a bright, peppery note to balance out the richness of the salad.
  • Red onion: Red onion provides a sharp bite and a nice pop of color.
  • Pine nuts: Toasted pine nuts offer a subtle nuttiness and a delightful buttery crunch.
  • Feta cheese: Feta crumbles add a salty, tangy punch to the salad.

How to make cauliflower salad (step by step)

This cauliflower salad works for many occasions, from a summer salad to a Memorial Day recipe to 4th of July to a pizza party al fresco. Here are the basic steps for how to make it (or jump to the full recipe):

Cauliflower salad step 1: Chop the cauliflower and other ingredients.

Step 1: Chop and measure out the cauliflower, red onion, and sun dried tomatoes as noted in the ingredients list. Place them in a large bowl with the arugula.

Cauliflower salad step 2: Toast the pine nuts.

Step 2: Place the pine nuts in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat. Heat, shaking the pan and stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove immediately from the heat and transfer to a plate to stop the cooking.

Cauliflower salad step 3: Stir together the dressing.

Step 3: In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, and Dijon mustard. To the bowl of the vegetables, sprinkle in the kosher salt, then add the dressing, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese and stir. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if necessary.

Flavor variations and tips

Want to change up the flavors? This cauliflower salad is an easy template for mixing and matching flavors. Here are a few ideas to get your wheels started:

  • Nuts: You can omit the toasted pine nuts if desired, but we recommend using them for the amount of nutty flavor they add. Substitute sunflower seeds or toasted almonds.
  • Vegetables: We like how the sun-dried tomatoes add a bacon-like flavor and a pop of red color. You can omit if desired, or use chopped roasted red peppers or thinly sliced red bell pepper. If you use sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, you can substitute all or part of the olive oil in the salad dressing with oil from the jar to infuse even more flavor!
  • Greens: Substitute chopped Italian parsley or other fresh herbs for the baby arugula, or you could add chopped baby spinach or baby kale.
  • Onion: Feel free to omit the red onion, or use a shallot for a milder flavor.
  • Cheese: Omit the feta cheese if desired or for a dairy-free salad (you may want to add a bit more salt).
Cauliflower Salad recipe in bowl with spoon.

Storing leftovers and make ahead info

Store leftover cauliflower salad refrigerated for up to 3 days. If making in advance, store components separately and add the dressing and pine nuts directly before serving.

More salad recipes

We are salad fanatics around here! If you are too, here are a few more you might enjoy:

Dietary notes

This cauliflower salad recipe is vegetarian and gluten-free. For dairy-free, omit the feta cheese. For vegan, use vegan mayonnaise and omit the feta.

Frequently asked questions

Why use raw cauliflower instead of cooked?

Raw cauliflower has a wonderful crunch and freshness that complements the creamy dressing. It also retains more nutrients when uncooked.

What can I substitute for mayonnaise in the dressing?

Try half Greek yogurt and half mayo, or a vegan mayo alternative. Each will offer a slightly different flavor and texture.

Can I make this salad ahead of time?

Yes! The salad is best enjoyed within a few hours of preparation for optimal texture. However, you can prepare the ingredients separately (chop the cauliflower, make the dressing, etc.) and assemble it just before serving.

How long will this salad keep in the refrigerator?

If stored in an airtight container, the salad should last 2-3 days.

What main dishes would pair well with this salad?

This salad is incredibly versatile! It would be delicious with grilled chicken or grilled fish, with a vegetarian main like a veggie burger, or alongside a sandwich or wrap.

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Cauliflower Salad

Cauliflower Salad


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

This cauliflower salad bursts with flavor! A creamy dressing complements the crisp cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes add tang, and toasted pine nuts bring a delightful crunch.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 8 cups small cauliflower florets, about 1 large head
  • ¼ cup red onion, diced
  • ¼ cup sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped*
  • 2 cups baby arugula
  • ¼ cup pine nuts (or sunflower seeds)**
  • ¾ cup mayonnaise (or vegan mayo)***
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup feta cheese crumbles***

Instructions

  1. Chop and measure out the cauliflower, red onion, and sun dried tomatoes as noted in the ingredients list. Place them in a large bowl with the arugula.
  2. Toast the pine nuts: Place the nuts in a dry skillet (no oil) over medium heat. Heat, shaking the pan and stirring often with a wooden spoon, until the nuts are fragrant and golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove immediately from the heat and transfer to a plate to stop the cooking.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the mayonnaise, olive oil, lemon juice, sugar, and Dijon mustard.
  4. To the bowl of the vegetables, sprinkle in the kosher salt, then add the dressing, toasted pine nuts and feta cheese and stir. Taste and add a pinch or two more salt if necessary. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving (the flavor is great right away, but does improve with a 30 minute chill). Store refrigerated for up to 3 days (if making in advance, store components refrigerated separately and add the dressing and pine nuts directly before serving).

Notes

*You can use sun dried tomatoes packed in oil or packed dry, and add slightly more if you love the flavor of this ingredient. If packed in oil, you can substitute all or part of the olive oil in the salad dressing with oil from the jar to infuse even more flavor! 

**You can omit the toasted pine nuts if desired, though we recommend using them if at all possible for the amount of nutty flavor they add. Substitute sunflower seeds or toasted almonds.

***If desired, you can use half Greek yogurt and half mayo for a lighter dressing; vegan mayo also works. Omit the feta cheese if desired for a dairy-free or vegan salad: you may want to add a bit more salt. 

  • Category: Salad
  • Method: No cook
  • Cuisine: Vegetarian
  • Diet: Vegetarian

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes and the joy of cooking! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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9 Comments

  1. Gary S says:

    How do I find the nutritional values for this salad?

  2. Annie says:

    Just made it today and it’s absolutely delicious! I did honey instead of sugar and walnuts instead of pine nuts, but we are loving it!! I roasted the cauliflower for like 15ish minutes first just out of preference. It’s a definite repeat for us!






  3. Wendy Lemke says:

    This salad sounds Yummy!! I do not buy store bought salad dressings because of some of the ingredients (I’m a label reader), so I very much appreciate you offering homemade dressings. Do you have a recipe for this salad dressing? Also, if you currently aren’t including dressing recipes, would you be willing to include them with your recipe? That would be awesome since I don’t possess the skill to know how much of this or that to include. 😊

  4. Cheryl says:

    We had the cauliflower salad tonight and it was delicious and easy to prepare! The dressing was quick, easy and delicious. The arugula added a yummy spice and overall it was fresh and perfect for pairing with a main dish (we had it with chicken). I will definitely fix it again. Perfect to serve for a barbecue with family or friends!






  5. Katherine says:

    We just made this cauliflower salad and loved the depth of flavors and enjoyed how filling it was alongside our protein which I ate much less of because of the salad.

    The flavor beautifully marinated into the cauliflower the longer the salad sat which was a plus. If I’m recommending this salad to someone, I’ll suggest that one makes it ahead and lets it sit for at least a half hour before serving for maximum flavor.

    One note is that I would put some additional chopped sun dried tomatoes in. I found myself searching for those bits and wishing more bites included the tomatoes.






  6. Tanvee says:

    Oh my goodness this cauliflower salad!!!!!! I was apprehensive about this one, not going to lie. Raw cauliflower isn’t my pick on a veggie tray, and I am not a mayo girl. BUT THIS SALAD! The flavours all meld together so wonderfully. The sun-dried tomatoes add such a nice tang and work really well with the dressing. This is just a superb recipe overall. I think the flavours will only get better sitting in the fridge, and I can’t wait to have this for lunch tomorrow.

    One note, I did not use all the dressing – maybe 3/4 of it? I figure the rest can be used easily as a sandwich spread or as a dip for veggies. I am planning on serving your chicken thighs with homemade wedges and some raw carrots – this will make an excellent dip!






  7. Amanda says:

    I made the cauliflower salad as part of my weekly meal prep. I love how easy it was and I had all the dressing ingredients in my pantry so it was super quick to put together! I ate a bowl right away and I love the tanginess of the mustard in the dressing.