This roasted cauliflower chickpea salad is loaded with healthy vegetables like obviously cauliflower and chickpeas, but also carrots, shallots and broccoli, in addition to a tangy garlic sauce and creamy baked feta cheese. Fresh pomegranate arils, bulgur, dates and za'atar bring this salad right into the delicious Middle East! This is one of my very favorite vegetarian dinners.
When I think of healthy comfort food, my mind goes straight to Middle Eastern and North African food. Other favorites within this category is this grilled halloumi salad with garlic vegetables, Moroccan butternut squash soup with chevre, and chicken shawarma with tabbouleh.
I know I could go on and on about Middle Eastern food, so I know I should probably make a separate category just for them! They are almost exclusively healthy, in addition to being filling, which makes them ideal for winter.
This is one of those recipes where you can basically add and subtract to your own liking, so if you find it to be too many ingredients, simply skip a few. However, I recommend giving it a try because I can guarantee that you won't get bored before finishing the bowl.
Yes, I'm that girl that gets bored by a 3 ingredient salad, sorry not sorry.
The roasted veggies
- Carrots - julienning them adds extra interest to the salad!
- Shallots - or red onion if you wish
- Garlic - never enough garlic
- Za'atar spice mix - homemade or store-bought!
- Olive oil, salt and pepper
The other components
- Bulgur - or quinoa, rice, couscous
- Feta cheese
- Fresh thyme and/or parsley
- Pine nuts - some delicious nutty crunch!
- Dates - I'm addicted to dates and add them to practically every Middle Eastern dish, just like this chicken and butternut squash
- Pomegranate - same here, read this lemon chicken winter salad to get a more thorough instruction on how to cut open a pomegranate
- Garlic yogurt dressing - tying everything together with more tang and more garlic, of course
Health benefits of cauliflower
Cauliflower has a lot of nutrients, so much so that it can be considered a superfood, and thus giving major health benefits. It's a reason why it's such a popular vegetable!
Cauliflower is rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamin B, C , and K, glucosinolates and magnesium, among others. 100 grams of cauliflower contains 92 grams of water, so it's also a great way to keep hydrated.
All these things make cauliflower ideal regarding health benefits such as anti-cancer powers, protects against cell damage, and it produces anti-inflammatory effects. However, as it is high in fiber it can be hard to digest for some, as it can produce gas.
Baked feta cheese
The real kicker of this recipe is the baked feta cheese. I also often serve this as a tapas dish too, and it is crazy easy to make. The thing about baked feta cheese though, is that it turns soft and gooey right out of the oven, which is when it is at its best.
But when it's sitting for a few minutes, it's back to the harder feta cheese texture. So it's best to serve immediately, but it's still good after.
Pre-heat oven to 450F (230C), add the block of feta cheese to a small heat-proof pan or bowl, drizzle with honey, salt and pepper, and a sprig of fresh thyme. Let it bake for 10 minutes or until golden.
I often add the feta cheese at the end of the bake time for the vegetables, and when the veggies are done I turn on the grill element and grill the cheese a little extra!
Once you try baked feta cheese, you will want to add it to everything yourself.
Garlic yogurt dressing
Dressing makes a salad, sauce makes a dish, in my opinion. Garlic yogurt dressing or muhammara dip are by far my favorite for Middle Eastern dishes, but I also love lemon vinaigrettes, guacamole and Indian raita for other salads and dishes.
To make it, you simply combine all the ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasonings as preferred. If I want it extra decadent, I may add a little mayonnaise too.
How to make it
To make the cauliflower chickpea salad you first need to pre-heat the oven to 450F (230C) and prep the vegetables for roasting. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into similar sized florets, mince the garlic, drain the chickpeas, thinly slice the shallot and julienne the carrots.
By julienning I mean cutting the carrot into thin strips, I use a potato peeler or Norwegian cheese slicer for this.
Add all the vegetables to a baking tray and in a small bowl; combine za'atar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle this mixture over the vegetables and give it a good mix. Bake for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Meanwhile prep the feta cheese and garlic yogurt sauce as stated above, and cook bulgur as according to package instructions (but for extra flavor I recommend switching the water for vegetable stock!).
Then prepare the toppings; chop the dates, open the pomegranate and dry roast the pine nuts. Add the pine nuts to a dry non-stick pan and roast on medium high heat until they get browned and smell nutty.
To assemble the cauliflower chickpea salad, divide the baked feta cheese, the bulgur and the vegetables among the plates. Top each with chopped dates, roasted pine nuts and pomegranate, then finally dollop garlic yogurt dressing on top. Sprinkle with chopped parsley if you're feeling fancy, and a lemon wedge on the side.
Did you like this recipe? Here are more healthy comfort food I think you would like:
- Ukrainian borscht beet soup
- Moroccan harissa chicken and butternut squash
- Creamy chicken and vegetable soup
- Orange shawarma chicken naan
- Maple mustard butternut squash kale salad
- Lebanese kofta meatballs in baharat sauce
- Vegan bean chili sin carne
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