Black Pepper Cauliflower Salad Recipe

A friday lunch favorite - cauliflower florets doused in a warm black pepper and red onion vinaigrette, and tossed with nuts, apples, olives, and a bit of feta.

Black Pepper Cauliflower Salad

Fridays have unofficially become guest lunch days around here. It wasn't something planned, Fridays just seem to be the day people swing by with deliveries for the shop, or the day everyone has a bit of extra time. Adele came by last, and Dave from Jacob May before that. I like it. We'll often break out a bit of wine, pull a few things together (along with whatever leftovers from the week are in the refrigerator), chat, throw ideas around, and generally enjoy each other's company. Today's black pepper cauliflower is one of the things that has landed on the table in various guises over the past couple of months. The florets are doused in a warm black pepper and red onion vinaigrette, and tossed with nuts, apples, olives, and a bit of feta. The version with broccoli was also popular (simply swap out the cauliflower for broccoli)...

Black Pepper CauliflowerBlack Pepper CauliflowerBlack Pepper Cauliflower

As far as how one of the spreads comes together, we'll often have a big pot of soup, a couple of salads (like this), and someone typically throws a few eggs in a skillet to poach and top the soup.

Black Pepper Cauliflower

We typically have them friday lunches here at the house, but(!) that might change soon. After a long search, we finally found a new home for QUITOKEETO. It's a little rough around the edges, and is going to take some time to clean up - but new floors are en route, paint swatches are being debated, bars are hopefully coming off the windows, and the fluorescent lights will politely be escorted out. I promise more details as this unfolds in the coming weeks. The light in the space is beautiful and soft, the ceilings high. It was a painter's studio for many years, and after spending some time in it, I understand why. More soon. xo -h

Black Pepper Cauliflower

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Black Pepper Cauliflower Salad

*To keep your apples from browning after slicing, place them in a bowl of water with a big squeeze of lemon juice until ready to use.

2 pound head of cauliflower, cut into tiny florets
3/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1 tablespoon black peppercorns, crushed
1 cup toasted pistachios, roughly chopped
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
3 apples, diced*
1/3 cup chopped black olives

Bring a pot of water to a boil, salt well and cook the cauliflower for a minute, until just tender. Drain, run under cold water to stop cooking, drain well, and set aside.

Combine the red onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, and black pepper in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Once the onions have turned pink and infused the oil and vinegar mixture, remove from heat and set aside.

When ready to serve, place cauliflower florets into a large bowl. Add the pistachios, feta, apples, olives, and 2/3 of the red onion vinaigrette. Toss everything together gently and give it a taste--depending on the saltiness of your feta, you might wish to add a little more salt. You might want to add the remaining vinaigrette as well.

Serves 6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 10 minutes

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I never imagined that Black pepper and cauliflower salad may be a delicious recipe. I was scared while serving it to my friends, but stunned when they enjoyed this recipe and praised me for my efforts. Its really a wonderful and tasty recipe. Thanks!

Stefanie F

I like all the individual ingredients but would never have imagined them together. As usual, the recipe did not disappoint. Absolutely fabulous.


I’m making the dish again this week for a teacher’s appreciation lunch. It is fantastic!
All the flavors are so lovely together. I’m afraid I eat most of the dish myself…so in my case, serves 1. 🙂


I made this for a brunch party yesterday and it was *fabulous*. I initially questioned the combo of apples and olives, but they were a beautiful counterpoint to each other.


OK – very silly story…was making this salad for dinner and also your lemon-scented quinoa salad, to which I had decided to add a head of steamed broccoli, cut small…so of course I mixed up the two salad bowls and put the broccoli in the black pepper cauliflower salad bowl and I put the cauliflower in the lemon-scented quinoa salad bowl. Arg! Was super furious with myself for about one minute and then realized it would be fine. And it was. Had used black quinoa so it looked good with the cauliflower. And both recipes are fabulous! Thank you!

HS: 😉 I can imagine the cauliflower in the quinoa salad being thumbs up!


This recipe has been on my mind since your post and the only thing I didn’t have on hand was the cauliflower. Got that today and made it this morning. I LOVE each of the ingredients individually but as others I would have never thought of putting them all together. It’s brilliant! And totally light and delicious. And filling!! I’ve been following you for a few years but this recipe just made me have to chime in! 🙂

Adrienne C

I made this salad last night. Completely forgot the apple, but honestly it didn’t taste as though anything was missing. It was very well balanced. I served it with ground chicken chorizo, sautéed asparagus and brown rice. It was a perfect compliment! Even had an unexpected dinner guest. Thanks for the ever inspiring menus.

Mrs fox

I made this on Monday night and my family loved it! I didn’t add all the apples, but I should have. And personally, I would increase the dressing a wee bit. But the flavors are out of this world. Even better the second day.
As usual, another favorite. I just love the way you combine ingredients. So fresh!

Teri B

Surprisingly tasty. I wouldn’t have expected the ingredients to work together so well, but the tang of the vinegar, the saltiness of the cheese, the sweet-sour taste of the apple, the crunch of the pistachios, the burn of the pepper, together with the blandness of the cauliflower, somehow it all works. I consider this an excellent experiment and I look forward to trying other recipes.


Love, love, love the new space! Congrats!
Wish it was my painting studio. The cauliflower salad looks delish but I am wondering about heating the extra-virgin olive oil. I keep hearing so much about it not being a good idea to heat it. What are your thoughts and what oil would you substitute?

Peggy for cooksbybooks

Really can’t wait for the new space for Quitokeeto!

HS: Thanks Eva – we hope you come visit someday!


Made this tonight with broccoli and it was great! Will definitely be making again. Thank you for sharing so much wonderfulness with us.


Everything looks so gorgeous! I’m a big fan of pistachios, but find them underused in dishes, especially in salads.

Shikha @ Shikha la mode

I love cauliflower and was stuck on roasting with curry. Thanks for kicking my food jag in the you know what!

Emily Camiener

This salad is soooo very delicious and filling for lunch! I’ll be eating it (happily!) for days. I used a generous grind of black pepper rather than crushed peppercorns, with good results. And it reminded me to start making some of your spring/summer salads that have been favorites in the past. Thanks for shaking up the lunch routine!


This sounds like a lovely salad, but I would probably use only one apple and a quarter cup (or less) of pistachios — the quantity in your recipe makes it a very expensive salad.


Congratulations on the new space! How exciting! And the salad looks absolutely beautiful–I have a couple of apples that need a home so this is perfect!

Stephanie @ Everyday Feasts

This salad is delicious! I made it last night (for lunches the rest of this week) using a combination of broccoli/cauliflower/asparagus. I forgot to include the apple and olives (but will for tomorrow!) and added some lamb meatballs I had on hand for protein. This is definitely being added to my lunch salad rotation.


I love spontaneous gatherings at my nest, especially when a feast is involved. Happy Nesting!


I made this and have to give it 5 stars. The flavor-packed dressing and the big “bite” of black pepper are positively addictive — I woke up this morning thinking about this salad! To those thinking of roasting it — no need!!! I nearly did, but then followed the recipe exactly and it is perfect. The blanched cauli is so suprisingly delicious, soaking up all the other flavors, and provides snap and freshness, ease, and avoids long hot ovens. Totally making this all summer!


Hey Heidi, this looks beautiful! Have you done similar things with romanesco? Also, what are your favorite additions when using broccoli?

HS: Hi Sarah – you can certainly make this with romanesco – great idea. And, honestly, a straight swap with broccoli in place of the cauliflower is how it goes down there – although, I do tend to like pine nuts with broccoli. So, you could work those in, in place of pistachio?

Sarah Kaye

What a great new idea to prepare cauliflower/broccoli! Thanks for great recipe. And that space looks gorgeous! Love tall ceilings!


Feta, pepper, & pistachios – love this combo with cauliflower! This would be great with roasted cauliflower, too. Always love that natural light beaming into your kitchen.

Grace @ FoodFitnessFreshAir

Oh my goodness, Heidi. This looks heavenly. I love dishes like this that are quick and simple to pull together, and can be enjoyed in the very best of company.


1. congrats on the QUITOKEETO progress! must be soooo exciting 🙂
2. do you have any thoughts on a dairy-free version of this salad? Do you reckon the vinaigrette is strong enough for this to be delicious without feta (maybe a few more olives and/or some capers) or should I go all out and make some cashew cheese?
thanks! (I so hope you recognise my comments and know I LOVE your work)

Hi Hannah! You could certainly do a feta-less version. And maybe if you feel like having a creamy component you could do salted coconut milk (the cream) dollops…


Congratulations on the new place for Quitokeeto!!


I think this would be a great salad using broccoli. perhaps the pistachios could be swapped for pine nuts or walnuts. Or perhaps with roasted cauliflower too.


Making this To-NIGHT! Mouthwatering combo with all that tangy vinegar, olives, feta and lots of red onion. Thank you! 🙂


I had a head of red cauliflower in my refrig wondering what on earth I could do special. And here you came to save the day.
I’ve never had red cauliflower before but my market had yellow beets also.


Hi Heidi; can you please suggest an alternative to pistachios?? I am allergic to them. 🙁
My younger sister turned me onto your blog several years ago and I have been enjoying it ever since. I can’t tell you how many Colorado smiles have been generated through the awesomeness of Itsy Bitsy Chocolate Chip Cookies, Blueberry Cake, Shredded Egg Salad and more (especially at the Fort Collins Bike Co-op…our amazing volunteers AND our manager REALLY loved the Blueberry Cake…and everything). This may sound a bit odd, but I appreciate how many of your recipes are “bike-able”. I don’t have a car and I ride my bike everywhere, so it’s important that a dish can travel by messenger bag or bike rack. So far, I’ve yet to be disappointed.
I look forward to preparing this recipe as well. Many thanks; your culinary genius is inspiring and continues to impress!


Oh, this salad. So refreshing to see a unique cauliflower recipe. Cauli is everywhere, but I haven’t seen it look this good in a while. Gorgeous!

Christina @ but i'm hungry

So inventive! I love the feta that you used in this – I imagine it quite makes the salad!

Lisa @ Simple Pairings

PERFECT salad for tonight. Love this!!!

The Wimpy Vegetarian

Bryanna Clark Grogan has a recipe for a wonderful vegan feta cheese on her site for those who cant/wont eat dairy.


I will make this tonight!
What is this opaque rectangular dish that salad is photographed in? I love it’s simplicity. Can i find it somewhere?
Thank You.


Sounds really good but for those of us who are unimaginative and should not be eating cheese – What would you suggest to replace the feta – just a bit more salt for that ‘note’, or ____ ?


how exciting! It looks gorgeous, Heidi. Congrats on finding a space that feels right, I know it’s not easy. I’m certain you guys will make it gorgeous. Hip hip.

sara forte

I do believe this is exactly what I need to make tonight for dinner. Perhaps accompanied by a roasted chicken. The QK space is just beautiful. Perfect light. The possibilities seem endless. Perhaps and space to host large communal dinners that are photographed for your next book?

Dina Avila

Congrats on the new studio!


cliffhanger! real life shop? i’m swooning…


A BIG Congratulations on the QUITOKEETO space!! I love my knives, jars of honey & the lovely linen covers I have received, all in beautiful packages, from your shop. The Jacob May serving board continues to speak to me every time I see it…

Kristin | The Dinner Concierge

I love it. Every time I think cauliflower salad I see ham or bacon. I like this much lighter approach, so much more in-tune with the spirit of spring!

Angel Reyes

That new space is lovely. I could live there!


Perfect salad addition for upcoming Board meeting, outdoor concerts, and tenting trip to Grand Canyon. It’s different, quick, and EASY!! Can’t wait to make it!! THANKS forever!!


This salad looks amazing! I’m tempted to try it out roasting the cauliflower (or broccoli) instead of boiling it. Love the Mediterranean inspired vinaigrette!

Rasa @ The Vixen Life

I need to make this…all of those ingredients sound incredible, but I would never think of putting them all together…and that’s why I love your cooking! Thanks, again….


Oh how fun to have a new space for new inspiration and creativity! Look forward to hearing details as they unfold! And love this idea of your Friday lunches. Lucky diners to have this cauliflower dish…it’s going on my to-make list.
P.S. Made the mung yoga bowl last week and it was delicious! Added chopped avocado to the bowls and some chipotle powder to the warmed olive oil. 😉

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

I reckon some pomegranate seeds would be a nice crunch, too PS your new space looks fab…


Excellent. All I knew about dinner tonight is that it involved a head of cauliflower. Thanks for clearing up the rest of the details. Love your new space – gorgeous.

Garlic Pig

This looks like a lovely salad. I love the sound of your impromptu Friday lunches with friends and wine. After this post you may have even more visitors stopping by. 😉

Maryea {happy healthy mama}

What a great, light space… Congratulations and happy clean-up! Beautiful, really.


This looks fabulous!
Cauliflower and broccoli are two of those vegetables that many people don’t like, and I used to be one of them. Since then though, I have found that they are actually so full of great flavour, and is so versatile they can be used for lots of dishes! Thanks for the idea 🙂 x

Jules @ WolfItDown

Heidi, your new space looks lovely – does this mean that Quitokeeto will in time become a shop that you can walk into and buy from, or will it just remain an online store?

HS: Hi Kate! There are a good number of possibilities being thrown around right now. The good news is the space is street level, on a lovely stretch of old San Francisco…so I’m optimistic about what might be possible.


Beautiful salad and QUITOKEETO space! Black pepper is one of those underrated spices, I love that you’ve used such a generous amount here. I’d like to try this with some boiled, quartered red potatoes thrown in too.


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