Tri-color Cauliflower Salad is a hearty yet refreshing salad made with white cauliflower, purple cauliflower, and Romanesco, topped with flavorful feta cheese, fresh dill, and a light vinaigrette. Loaded with crunch and flavor, this salad is a versatile side dish or a tasty light meal! Make it with white cauliflower accessible throughout the year. However, If you can find gorgeous purple cauliflower and green cauliflower or Romanesco, the colors of the salad will really pop!
Note: This post was originally published on August 3, 2014, as part of the Simple Sundays. The recipe, content, and photography have been updated from the archives. I hope you enjoy this favorite from my kitchen!
The inspiration behind this Cauliflower Salad
There was a moment when I looked at my husband across the aisle and thought, “This is it.” Our children were sitting in the row with me, the oxygen masks secured on our faces, the breathing in and out of the clear air oddly calming.
It was a wet and gloomy March morning when we left San Francisco to fly back to New York to celebrate my brother’s wedding, and for a scary moment, I thought we wouldn’t even make it alive. The plane was over half an hour into flight when there was an unexpected loss in cabin pressure, and the pilots, in their masked breathing, advised us to use the masks when they dropped from the ceiling. Yes, those masks you see illustrated on the card in the seat pocket in front of you. The masks you ignore when the flight crew demonstrates at the beginning of each flight. That morning, as the air in the cabin thinned and my lungs begged for a good breath, they couldn’t seem to fall fast enough.
That flight was on the heels of the first Malaysian Air tragedy, and all the passengers were a bundle of nerves. We diverted to Oakland and landed safely. But as we boarded a new plane, it did not surprise me that we lost about twenty passengers entirely. My husband half-joked that we should hop in the car and drive to New York for the wedding.
When our car emerged from the Midtown Tunnel into the city, it was well past midnight, and we were weary and tired. And famished. But our sleek hotel room was a welcome oasis, with its view of the New York Public Library and midtown office lights that enchanted the children. And I was surprised to find that the quality of the room service surpassed my expectations.
That night, I ordered their Farmer’s Salad, composed of gorgeous raw purple cauliflower, Romanesco, chunks of creamy feta, fresh herbs, and a refreshing vinaigrette. It was light yet satisfying and, in my mind, the perfect meal.
Throughout our stay there, we would come home from wedding events or shows hungry and find ourselves ordering room service late at night. I found myself ordering this salad again and again. That is how much I loved it. It was consistently perfect. This Tri Color Cauliflower Salad has haunted me ever since, and finally, months after my brother’s wedding, I recreated it at home.
It’s funny how certain things can haunt you. I confess that trip changed me. I was never so grateful to land safely. It had turned me, someone who was never frightened of air travel, into someone who experiences some apprehension with each odd noise on a flight. I now pay attention to the safety briefings. I look at the emergency card. I count the number of seats to my nearest exit.
But then, there are good things that can haunt you. This salad is proof of that. It is definitely worth remembering.
How to Make Tri-Color Cauliflower Salad
The beauty of cauliflower is that it is available year-round. No matter the season, white cauliflower is plentiful, and this recipe allows it to shine. But if you find beautiful purple cauliflower, green cauliflower, or Romanesco, this cauliflower salad will pop on the plate!
To make the salad, start by making the Sherry vinaigrette. Mix the shallot, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard in a small bowl. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside, or refrigerate until you are ready to make the salad.
Combine the cauliflowers, radishes, and feta in a large bowl, and dress with the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper, and garnish with sprigs of dill. The salad can be served immediately, but since it is a hearty salad, it will also do well made in advance.
More Cauliflower Recipes
Tri Color Cauliflower Salad
- 1 medium shallot minced
- 2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 cups sliced white cauliflower
- 1 1/2 cups sliced purple cauliflower
- 1 1/2 cups sliced green cauliflower or Romanesco
- 1 cup radishes quartered
- 1 cup feta cheese cut into 1/2 inch pieces
- fresh dill for garnish
- In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, sherry vinegar, lemon juice, and mustard. While whisking, slowly pour in the olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set the dressing aside, or refrigerate until you are ready to make the salad.
- Combine the cauliflowers, radishes, and feta in a large bowl. Dress with the Sherry vinaigrette. Season to taste with salt and pepper, if necessary. To serve, plate the salad and garnish with sprigs of dill. Serve immediately.