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

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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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.


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