Lemony roasted cauliflower with rainbow quinoa, flavorfully savory, and tart is made with no added oil, minimal ingredients, and easy cooking.
Raw with dip, transformed into cauliflower, boiled and mashed, dropped into curries, or roasted – cauliflower deserves our respect. Perhaps it’s not as sexy as some of the other cruciferous vegetables. That may be in part of its legacy as being served as an overcooked bowl of boiled blandness.
Cauliflower is a cost-effective bundle of antioxidants such as sulforaphane (good for your heart), gut-filling and friendly fiber, and inflammation-fighting sulfur. So, with all that goodness going for it, let’s stop the eye-rolling and whip it up in mouthwatering ways that are healthful and second helping irresistible.
Cauliflower – A medium or even small head of cauliflower will do the trick. I recommend keeping the florets on the small side so that you can scoop up bites of cauliflower in combination with the rest of the ingredients.
Quinoa – If you eat with your eyes, then pare cauliflower with contrasting quinoa such as black, red, or rainbow. This isn't critical, so use what you have. Mix different a few bits of what you have on hand. I mixed ½ a cup of red, white, and black - that's a quinoa rainbow.
Lemon juice – Lemon juice plays a role in baking the cauliflower and dressing the salad during assembly. Fresh lemon juice is always preferable; however, you can substitute a prepared (pure) lemon juice. You'll need about 5 tablespoons, which ends up being about 2 lemons.
Vegetable broth – Vegetable broth accentuates the nutty, deep flavor of the quinoa. If you use water, consider adding a pinch of salt and bay leaf.
Chives – Chopped chives add a mellow oniony flavor plus a lovely green color. Grab a small bunch, give them a rinse, bundle them up flat, and chop them.
Hazelnuts – Decadent raw hazelnuts, even a few, turn this simple dish into a treat. When you roughly chop them, you get the sweet insides with just a touch of bitter skin.
making this recipe
There are 2 components to this recipe – roasting cauliflower and cooking quinoa. Simple, but let’s explore both because I’ve got a few tips that might elevate you to pro (if you aren't already).
- For this dish, make sure that you cut the florets on the small side. This helps them pick up the lemony flavor, roast faster, and complement the small kernels of cooked quinoa.
- After you prep and rinse the cauliflower, shake it in the colander to help dry the cauliflower. Then toss it in lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
- Be sure to preheat the oven before adding the cauliflower. This ensures that the inside will get tender and the outside not too brown. I recommend lining your baking tray or dish with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. The lemon juice and moisture from the cauliflower will seep through. Lining the tray makes cleaning up easier.
- As the cauliflower bakes, toss the florets a few times so that they are evenly brown. You can also add a bit more lemon juice as you go.
how to cook quinoa
- Lid off. That's my word. If you want fluffy quinoa, ditch your pot lid until after you've simmered it and the liquid is absorbed. Immediately turn off the heat, then cover it with a lid. Let it sit for 5 minutes. This method makes it easier to monitor the pot so that it doesn’t boil over. I've also found that after the quinoa cooks and you leave the pot lid on for 5-10 minutes, the quinoa ends up fluffier than cooking it covered.
- It's important to note that you always want to rinse quinoa. This is more than for removing dust and fine particles. Rinsing quinoa removes any leftover outer coating that can contain saponins. This is what can give some quinoa a bitter, grassy taste. Give quinoa your love and rinse away!
- Be strategic if you use fresh lemons and save half for lemon wedges to serve. They make a lovely presentation.
Yes, you can roast frozen cauliflower. Preheat the oven to 450 F (230 C.). Place the frozen cauliflower in a bowl and toss it with lemon juice, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Add the cauliflower to a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 -25 minutes, tossing the florets a few times to brown them evenly.
The best way to reheat quinoa and cauliflower salad is to place it in a basket steamer and steam it for a few minutes. If you reheat it on the stovetop, you may want to add a bit of water to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan and scorching.
Rainbow quinoa, also known as tri-colored or quinoa blend, is a mixture of white, black, and red quinoa. You can find it prepackaged at many supermarkets, or you can mix your own. Mix equal amounts of the three kinds or use whatever quantities and colors you have on hand. Rinse it and simmer it with twice the amount of water or broth as quinoa.
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lemony roasted cauliflower with rainbow quinoa
Lemony roasted cauliflower and rainbow quinoa, flavorfully savory, and tart is made with no added oil, minimal ingredients, and easy cooking.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- Category: side dishes
- Method: baking/stovetop
- Cuisine: American
- Diet: Vegan
- 1 medium head of cauliflower cut into tiny florets
- 4 -5 tablespoons of lemon juice (2 medium fresh lemons)
- ½ teaspoon of garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- ½ teaspoon of ground black pepper
- 1 ½ cups of quinoa, rinsed
- 3 cups of vegetable broth
- ¼ cup chopped hazelnuts
- ¼ cup chopped fresh chives
- Preheat the oven to 4500 F (2300 C). Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Place the cauliflower florets in a bowl. Add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and sprinkle the salt and pepper over the top. Use a spoon to mix the cauliflower to evenly covered it with the rest of the ingredients.
- Place the cauliflower in a single layer on the baking tray and in the center of the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, tossing it once or twice so that it browns evenly on all sides. Test the cauliflower for doneness by piercing a floret with a fork. It should be tender but firm.
- While the cauliflower bakes, combine the rinsed quinoa and vegetable broth in a medium pot. Bring the broth to boiling, then lower the heat so that it is simmering. Cook the quinoa uncovered for 15 minutes until the broth is absorbed. Turn off the heat and immediately cover the pot. Allow the quinoa to rest for 10 minutes.
- Fluff up the quinoa, then add it to a bowl. Mix in 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, half the hazelnuts, and half the chives. Then, add the cauliflower. Top this with a final tablespoon of lemon juice (optional) and the remaining chopped hazelnuts and chives.
- Serve warm or cold.
- Large cauliflower florets will overwhelm the quinoa, so try to cut them small.
- If you decide to use water rather than vegetable broth for cooking the quinoa, add a pinch of water and a bay leaf to give it a bit more flavor.
- You can use frozen cauliflower for this recipe too! Preheat the oven to 4500 F. (2300 C.)
- The best way to reheat this dish is to steam it using a basket steamer. If you reheat it on the stovetop in a pan, add water or broth to keep the quinoa from scorching.
Keywords: roasted cauliflower, rainbow quinoa