Growing up, I always found cauliflower to be quite dull. It doesn’t have much flavor on its own, and, like vanilla ice cream, its white color adds to its plain persona. But I’ve been experimenting with this unassuming vegetable lately and have reevaluated its qualities. With a bit of help, it can become quite special – it has a nice texture when sauteed, and has the ability to soak up other stronger flavors.
Although this cauliflower quinoa dish probably looks like it wouldn’t have much flavor, it couldn’t be farther than the truth. With a zesty lemon dressing and cauliflower sauteed with garlic, red pepper flakes, basil and capers, the dish really shines. The cauliflower retains its sturdiness – in my mind, there is nothing worse than mushy vegetables – and some toasted almonds add a nice crunch. It’s become one of my new favorite quinoa dishes, and this is coming from someone who eats quite a lot of quinoa.
This would make a great side dish, but I also think it’s a nice light main dish as well. It’s great as leftovers and would pack well for lunch, too. There are several ways you could tweak it, too: add some peppery arugula to make it into a salad, or add some chickpeas or white beans for a heartier meal.
- 1 cup quinoa, uncooked
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small, flat pieces
- Pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon capers
- Five large basil leaves, julienned
- ⅓ cup slivered toasted almonds
- For the dressing:
- ¼ cup olive oil
- Juice of one lemon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Cook the quinoa according to package directions; add the cider vinegar and salt before covering with lid.
- In a large saucepan, sautee the garlic and red pepper flakes in olive oil over medium heat; cook about 2-3 minutes, or until garlic is lightly browned.
- Add cauliflower, salt, capers and basil to pan. Cook for about 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until cauliflower is tender but still somewhat firm.
- In the meantime, whisk the salad dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
- Combine the cooked quinoa, cauliflower, dressing and almonds in a large bowl.