Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad with Mustard Greens

I’m going to be perfectly upfront with you about this salad; it’s part of a bigger strategy.

You see I take my December eating pretty seriously.  Christmas cookies, cheese balls, and cocktail wienies are all on the horizon and I know I won’t be able to enjoy them in all their glory if I still feel guilty about the excessive eating of Thanksgiving week.  So I’m going to eat lots of hearty, nutritious salads for the next week or two.  Don’t worry, they’ll be delicious enough that I’ll enjoy the ride.

Today: a zippy quinoa salad with heaps of mustard greens, chickpeas, plenty of roasted cauliflower, and capers.  It’s a great make-on-Monday salad to pack in your lunchbox or have available for those I’m-so-starving-I-could-eat-a-whole-jar-of-peanut-butter-even-though-I-probably-shouldn’t moments.

There’s nothing to making a salad like this.  No special equipment required.  The only quasi-special ingredient is the capers and you could substitute green olives for a similar outcome.

Get your ingredients together: zesty mustard greens, nutty quinoa, head of cauliflower, can o’ chickpeas, tangy little capers, sharp shallots, a parsley nosegay.

In the time it takes to roast the cauliflower, you’ll have everything else ready.  Cook the quinoa, wash and chop the greens, slice a shallot, mince the parsley, drain and rinse a can of chickpeas.

Resist!  You’ll want to burn your fingertips by eating all of the dark, caramelized cauliflower florets at this point, but save some for the salad.  Toss everything together in a big bowl with olive oil and lemon juice.

All done.  Healthy lunch all week.  Sign yourself up for some guilt-free cookie-eating come December.

Cauliflower & Quinoa Salad with Mustard Greens
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This salad keeps well for a couple days. It's great slightly warm as soon as it's assembled, at room temperature, or straight from the fridge. Make it at the beginning of the week and pack it for lunch or serve as a side with simple roasted chicken or fish.
Recipe type: Lunch, Salad, Side
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6
  • 1 head Cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 c. Quinoa
  • 4 c. Mustard Greens, rinsed and dried
  • 1 15 oz can Chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans), rinsed
  • 1 Shallot, thinly sliced
  • ¼ Capers, drained
  • ¼ c. Italian Parsley, chopped
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Fresh Lemon Juice
  • Red Pepper Flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425°. Toss cauliflower florets with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, salt, and a pinch of red pepper flakes on a baking sheet. Roast until golden and caramelized, 20-25 minutes depending on size of florets.
  2. Meanwhile, bring 2 cups of water to boil in a small sauce pan. Salt lightly, add quinoa and simmer, partially covered until tender, about 12 minutes. Drain if excess water remains and set aside.
  3. In a large salad bowl, combine greens, roasted cauliflower, quinoa, chickpeas, shallot, capers, and parsley. Toss with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1-2 Tbsp. lemon juice (this will depend largely on how acidic your capers are) and season with salt and black pepper to taste.
If you use a different type of hearty green (kale would be nice!) you may want to add a couple spoonfuls of dijon mustard as you dress the salad.

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