Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Hazelnut Salad


25 Mar Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Hazelnut Salad

Roasted Cauliflower, Pomegranate & Hazelnut Salad - The Messy Baker

This roasted cauliflower salad serves as my reminder that good recipes are flexible. Good recipes invite experimentation. They serve as helpful guidelines, not rigid rules. With titles like “The Best This” or “The Ultimate That” it’s easy to forget no one recipe has a monopoly on the “right version.” Palate, mood, seasonal variations and product availability should come into play. It’s okay to roll the dice and take a chance. You could land on Free Parking and scoop up the kitty. The worst case scenario? You land in jail — but you’re just visiting.

I many ways, this recipe is a departure for me. I adore roasted cauliflower piping hot from the oven. This is served at room temperature. Celery makes it into my kitchen only to be used in mirepoix. This salad features it.  I have yet to use pomegranate in a recipe for the blog. Its bright red seeds crown the dish. So for those who were hoping for a not-hot, celery-studded, pomegranate-laced salad, pass Go and collect $200.

Everyone else, grab a fork and advance token to nearest Railroad.

Versatile Roasted Cauliflower

The inspiration for this recipe came from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Random House ©2012).  The original recipe calls for cinnamon, allspice, sherry vinegar and maple syrup. I was entranced and thought it tasted like Christmas. Only healthier. To my surprise, less adventurous eaters at the table disagreed. Perhaps the version would have gone over better in December when snow is exciting and warm spices mean mistletoe and cheer. But with April on the horizon and that bloody snow still inches deep and smothering the daffodils (oh, please, let there be daffodils under all that snow), less festive flavours seemed in order. So I complied.

According to the headnotes, roasted cauliflower “benefits from anything sweet and sharp.” In place of sherry vinegar and maple syrup, I substituted sweet and tangy pomegranate molasses. This thick syrup is available at most Middle Eastern stores. If you can’t find it, use equal parts honey and lemon juice. Sneak some of that maple syrup back in and win Second Prize in a Beauty Contest. Collect $15.00.

To entice spring, I ditched the parsley and added fresh cilantro. For the 40% of the population who hates this herb, pay each player $50. For the remaining 60%, collect double rent and use cilantro as liberally as you see fit.

Last but not least, the celery haters in the crowd get out of jail free. The roasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds provide plenty of crunch. No one will know the celery is missing.

Roasted Cauliflower Salad -

Want to change it up? Go ahead. The book’s version of the recipe was inspired by Australian chef and food writer, Karen Martini. It seems endlessly versatile. Where would you take it?

Roasted Cauliflower & Hazelnut Salad
Recipe type: Salads
Prep / inactive time: 
Cook / active time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Normally roasted cauliflower is served hot, but this salad is designed to hit the table at room temperature so you can enjoy the crunch of the hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds.
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, cut or broken into small florets (about 1½ pounds)
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ⅓ cup whole hazelnuts
  • 1 large celery stalk, cut ¼-inch thick on the angle (about ⅔ cup)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds (about ½ medium pomegranate)
  • 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (or 1 tablespoon honey mixed with 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice)
  • generous grinding of coarse salt (Himalayan pink is nice)
  • generous grinding of fresh ground black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place the cauliflower in a large bowl. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon of salt and a grinding of fresh black pepper. Toss again. Spread cauliflower on a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan and roast for 25 to 35 minutes. The cauliflower should be golden brown and crisp at the stem edges. Transfer the roasted cauliflower to a large bowl and allow to cool.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooling, reduce the oven to 375°F. Spread the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking pan and roast for 15 to 18 minutes or until the nuts smell fragrant and begin to brown slightly.
  4. Allow the nuts to cool a bit before handling them, then chop coarsely. There's no need to remove the skins.
  5. Sprinkle the nuts over the cauliflower. Add the celery, cilantro and pomegranate seeds and toss to distribute. Drizzle with the remaining oil, pomegranate molasses and salt and pepper to taste. Toss again and serve at room temperature.
This recipe is adapted from Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. Published by Random House ©2012.



Related Post

  • Elin
    Posted at 14:43h, 25 March Reply

    Yes, please give us more recipes that allow for flexibility. I cook on a string budget, using whatever is on special offer that week, or reduced because of a short use-by-date, or already in our cupboard needing to be used up. Wasting leftovers is not an option. Cookbooks are rarely helpful to me, except as inspiration. I feel they should be written in a different way. Now with modern technology, how about an ‘ingredients that go well together’ app?
    Most cultures have a dish where you throw in whatever you have. Pasta sauce, pizza, pyttipanna, stew… Make a pie crust, fill it with something.
    Oven pancake: make batter from flour, milk, eggs (no baking soda). Fry for instance apples with spices in an oven safe frying pan. Pour over batter. Put frying pan in oven and bake. Also works with bananas, or mushrooms… Or put nuts or coconut in the batter. Maybe you can suggest other variations.
    There’s a debate on the internet on whether authentic Irish stew should contain any other vegetables than potatoes. A bit ridiculous, as it was food for the poor and I’m sure the poor used whatever was available.
    I’m interested in exploring variations on casserole in oven that cooks itself while I do other things.
    It makes cooking more creative, too, when it’s an experiment and you don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and you learn a lot about how the ingredients behave.
    As a kid, I was annoyed by my dad’s inability to follow recipes, but now I’m like that myself. He grew up during the war.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 15:31h, 25 March Reply

      Thanks for you thoughful comment. A lot of us are on budgets and no one should be wasting food. You raise some very good points.

      With the exception of baking, where changing ratios or kinds of flour can alter the outcome drastically, every recipe is flexible. Chef Michael Smith is great at breaking down a recipe to you can learn to make it in ways that appeal to you or use up what you have on hand. When he covered chowders, he emphasized that the cooks would use whatever they had on hand — different kinds of fish, seafood, milk or cream. There is no “authentic” chowder recipe since, like the Irish stew you mention, they people used what was available. We should all be this flexible in our everyday cooking. A lot of times people are not familiar enough with basic cooking to feel they can stray from the recipe.

      If you are curious about which ingredients go well together, The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg is an amazing source. It’s my go-to book for inspiration. If it were an app, I’d buy it! The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim is another life saver. Again, if they had an app for this, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.

      Thanks again for sharing your pancake variations. I hope it inspires someone to try a different take on a basic recipe.

  • Doreen Pendgracs
    Posted at 21:30h, 25 March Reply

    I love the new look of your blog, Charmian! Really pleasing on the eye.

    And I LOVE the look of this recipe. Being a huge lover of cauliflower, olive oil, hazelnuts, and cilantro, I’m sure it’s a real winner! I will bookmark and pin this recipe!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 01:50h, 26 March Reply

      Thanks, Doreen. The new blog will continue to develop and evolve. Expect changes when I know my book cover.

      Cauliflower is one of my favourites. Love it roasted. Hope you like the recipe and find ways of making it your own.

  • Nelson
    Posted at 03:42h, 27 March Reply

    I love broccoli and this recipe makes me love it so much. As broccoli contains the flavonoid kaempferol. Kaempferol is an anti-inflammatory, helps fight against cancer and heart disease, and has been shown to be preventative in adult diabetes onset.

  • Medeja
    Posted at 00:29h, 18 April Reply

    I love cauliflower! This salad looks really yummy! I would have it alone :)

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 00:55h, 18 April Reply

      I adore cauliflower. My husband doens’t, which actually works out well for me.

      You’re right. This could be a meal in itself on a warm summer day. Adding it to my picnic/patio meal list!

  • Jennifer
    Posted at 13:16h, 12 April Reply

    I’ve made this before and it was phenomenal- thank you!

    How well do you think this salad would stand up if it was prepared the night before and refrigerated?

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 20:46h, 12 April Reply

      It would, but I wouldn’t put the nuts on it until the last minute. They might get a bit soft. Glad you like the recipe!

      • Jennifer
        Posted at 12:41h, 13 April Reply


Post A Comment

Subscribe to my newsletter.

It’s easy. It’s free. It’s informative.


Receive weekly tips, recipes and advanced notice of upcoming events.

Yes, please!