Hearty and wholesome. Two words not normally used to describe a salad. But this Purple Cauliflower Salad is exactly that due to its creaminess, roasted undertones and nutty flavours.
What is Purple Cauliflower?
Purple cauliflower is simply cauliflower that’s purple! If you were looking for an answer of great substance or an epiphany of sorts, sorry to disappoint you! LOL!
The colour is caused by the presence of an antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can also be found in red cabbage, blackberries, red wine and blueberries. The depth of the colour varies from pale pastel to deep purple.
The texture of the purple cauliflower is the same as a regular cauliflower. Some people have said that in terms of flavour, the purple cauliflower is slightly sweeter and nuttier. From my point of view, the tastes are the same and I don’t detect a real difference.
Is Purple Cauliflower A GMO Vegetable?
You would be forgiven for thinking so considering it has only really been around farmers markets in the last 10 years and in mainstream supermarkets perhaps in the last year or two.
Thankfully, purple cauliflower is not genetically modified nor is it dyed or painted. These naturally occurring flavonoid pigments make it safe to eat and for foodies like me, a glorious gift from nature!
How to Buy the Best Purple Cauliflower?
As you would with a regular cauliflower, you’re looking for fresh and vibrant leaves as wilted leaves means that the cauliflower is not as young and fresh.
The florets should be well packed and the whole head should feel heavy. Do also make sure the florets are free of dark spots and blemishes.
Note that the intensity of the purple hue is irrelevant to whether the cauliflower is fresh or not.
What is Tahini?
Tahini has made somewhat of an explosive entry into the Australian market and is becoming increasingly ubiquitous. Yet most people I know have never really tried it nor is it a staple in their pantries just yet.
Tahini is a paste made up of ground-up sesame paste. It has in fact been around for a very long time and a prevalent ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine.
Most of you don’t realise it but you have probably been eating tahini for a very long time. Without tahini, there’s no hummus or baba ganoush. The ground up or mashed chickpeas or eggplants are all mixed with tahini to give you the dips you have loved for the longest time. My partner is not a massive fan of tahini but considers himself a hummus connoisseur. Go figure!
Is Tahini Dairy Free?
Yup! It sure is! Tahini is quite creamy and one would have assumed it had dairy through it. It is also vegan, gluten free and great for those following a strict plant-based lifestyle.
And for those of you who can’t have peanut butter, this is a fantastic alternative not only in flavour but also in consistency.
Different Types of Tahini
There are 2 different types of tahini you can buy (or make if you’re so inclined). You can get tahini made from either unhulled or hulled sesame seeds. Tahini made from unhulled seeds is darker in colour with a stronger, slightly bitter taste. It is a healthier version of tahini as the husks are packed with nutrients.
You can also purchase tahini that is either roasted or raw. Think of it like any nut you would buy. Whilst the roasted versions are considered to be tastier, raw tahini is of course better for you.
It’s important to always buy good tahini and in this instant, it does actually make a difference. Bad tahini is astringent, dry and sometimes chalky. You want tahini which is silky, rich and smooth.
The only way for you to determine whether you may prefer unhulled to hulled sesame seeds or roasted versus raw, is you’re going to have to try them until you find the type that suits your palate.
If you love tahini dressings, do check out Roast Pumpkin Salad with Israeli Couscous and Apple and Roasted Baby Cauliflower Spiced Chickpeas Beetroot Tahini.
Why I Love Purple Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Mustard Tahini
I have to admit that when I make a purple cauliflower salad, it’s usually because I simply can’t go past its colour. When I’m grocery shopping either at the farmers market or at my local supermarket and I see a head of cauliflower that is so vibrant in its purple hues, I get sucked in.
I can literally picture it in my head what the salad would look like and I get excited (maybe I should get out more!).
I always associate roasted cauliflower with a creamy dressing. I find that it’s such a match made in heaven, just like my Pomegranate Cauliflower Salad with Chestnuts.
Tahini dressing recipe for this salad was the perfect accompaniment as I love the flavours of the sesame paste with the nutty cauliflower.
I do also love it because it’s an easy salad for parties. It is transportable and a salad I can put together at a friend’s house without making too much mess.
How to Make Purple Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Mustard Tahini
How to Prepare the Purple Cauliflower
Cut the purple cauliflower into florets. In a medium sized mixing bowl, coat the cauliflower with 1 tbsp of olive oil and salt.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the purple cauliflower on the baking tray and put in the oven at 200 C or 400 F for 8 minutes. After that time, remove from the oven and turn the florets so they get an even roasting throughout. Place it back in the oven for a further 8 minutes.
When it’s done, remove from the oven and set aside to cool for at least 10 minutes.
How To Prepare The Other Ingredients
Whilst the purple cauliflower is in the oven, toast almond flakes in a small fry pan on medium heat. Toast for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. I like to give it a toss here and there as they can brown unevenly otherwise.
Watch it for the whole time as the flakes are thin and can go from white to burnt before you know it. I love toasting sliced almonds as the aroma is so good!
For the onion, cut them into thin slices. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil into a fry pan and caramelise on medium to high heat for about 6 minutes or until golden brown.
With the herbs, just hand tear them as we’re going for the rustic look and essentially larger pieces. We need enough to parsley and coriander to yield ½ a cup each.
How To Make Lemon Mustard Tahini Dressing
Crush the garlic clove with the back of a knife to release its flavours. We are only infusing the dressing and not actually consuming the garlic.
In a small mixing bowl, mix tahini, Dijon mustard, honey, crushed garlic, the juice of ½ a lemon and water until well combined.
How to Assemble Purple Cauliflower Salad
Discard the crushed garlic clove. Smear the bottom of the flat serving platter or plate with the lemon mustard tahini dressing.
Then put the caramelised onions and ½ the toasted almond flakes on top. Spread it out evenly.
Mix the parsley and coriander with the roasted purple cauliflower florets. Then place them evenly on top of the onions.
Sprinkle the rest of the almond flakes as a garnish. Season with salt and pepper.
Essentially, we don’t want to mix the tahini dressing through the cauliflower as it makes the whole salad look gluggy and also takes away from the colour of the purple cauliflower.
This hearty salad is just so gorgeous and I love it because it’s not a normal looking salad. If you told me years ago that I’d make a salad that was purple and brown, I wouldn’t have been convinced.
The flavours are so wholesome. Nutty, creamy, caramelised and roasted flavours work extremely well together. This is an easy salad for parties with big numbers because it’s hearty and also simple enough to just increase the portion sizes.
Other Plant-Based Salad Recipes:
- Charred Corn With Roasted Red Onion, Avocado And Tomato Salad
- Vegan Breakfast Salad with Sage Mushrooms
- Ruby Grapefruit, Watermelon Panzanella Salad
- Risoni with Spiced Roasted Butternut Pumpkin
- Lotus Root Salad with Pickled Shiitake Mushrooms
Easy Salad Dressing Recipes:
Purple Cauliflower Salad with Lemon Mustard Tahini
- Cut purple cauliflower into small florets and place in a medium sized mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt to taste and mix it through well.
- Put baking paper on a baking tray. Place cauliflower on the baking tray and place in the oven at 200°C or 400°F for 8 minutes. Remove tray and turn purple cauliflower florets over. Place it back in the oven for a further 8 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool.
- Toast almond flakes in a small fry pan on medium heat. No oil required. Toast for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
- Cut onions into thin slices. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil into a fry pan and caramelise on medium to high heat for about 6 minutes or until golden brown.
- Hand tear flat leaf parsley to yield ½ cup.
- Hand tear coriander to yield ½ cup.
- Crush garlic with the back of a knife.
- In a small mixing bowl, mix tahini, Dijon mustard, honey, crushed garlic, the juice of ½ a lemon and water until well combined.
- Discard the crushed garlic clove.
- Smear the bottom of the flat serving platter or plate with the lemon mustard tahini dressing.
- Then put the caramelised onions and ½ the toasted almond flakes on top. Spread it out evenly.
- Mix the parsley and coriander with the roasted purple cauliflower florets. Then place them evenly on top of the onions.
- Sprinkle the rest of the almond flakes as a garnish.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- If you’re not able to find purple cauliflower, the normal white cauliflower is of course more than suitable.
- You can substitute almond flakes with pine nuts or crushed pistachio kernels.
- If you like your dressing thicker or thinner, adjust how much water you’re adding to the dressing.