Roasted Cauliflower-Quinoa-Chickpea Spinach Salad with Lemon Pesto Dressing


I had never heard the term “Sprinkle” in reference to a baby shower, until my wonderful Brooklyn friend, Erin, threw me a surprise one for Matty.  It took a few seconds with the pregnancy brain back then to have it click – ohhhh – shower for first baby, but just a little “sprinkle” of things for the subsequent ones.  Adorable.

It was my turn to sprinkle my dear friend with goodies and girl time for her second pending little munchkin.  Bed rest put a wrench into the plans of having it at a cool german beer hall in Park Slope (her idea – she is much cooler then I am). However, I did realize this was an opportunity to cook some pretty food for people that hopefully wouldn’t toss it on the floor or yell like I tasered them when placing something green on their plates.  At least I hoped that wouldn’t happen ;-).

This salad may have a long title and seemingly have lots of components but it is really simple – and a nice format to modify from.  Switch up grain, vegetable and dressing to what you have in the fridge/pantry.

I have gotten in the habit of making batches of quinoa and keeping them in the fridge.  In the chill of winter I also have started roasting vegetables and keeping those on hand to toss on the kids plates – and into my salads and meals.  I highly recommend doing this once or twice a week – if the oven is on for something else, throw chopped broccoli with some olive oil and salt and pepper in there and roast away.

Same for salad dressings – you seriously never have to buy a bottled dressing again.  I have 2 current obsessions when it comes to salad dressing – hummus thinned with lemon juice and water if needed – add a little salt and pepper and the same thing, but replace hummus with pesto.  Put a few spoonfuls of either in a small container/glass jar (old jelly jars are perfect), squeeze lemon juice in, pinch salt and pepper and put lid on and shake.  Add water until desired consistency – or more lemon.

quinoa spinach chickpea cauli salad close up (1 of 1)

Roasted Cauliflower-Quinoa-Chickpea Spinach Salad with Lemon Pesto Dressing

  • 1 cup quinoa (I used red)- cooked (1 cup quinoa+2 cups water, bring to boil and simmer until all water is absorbed – I rinse it in cold water to stop cooking)
  • 1 large cauliflower, cut into small pieces
  • 1 small red onion, cut in half, thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups baby spinach
  • Lemon Pesto dressing – 4 Tablespoons pesto mixed with juice of two lemons, pinch salt
  • extra lemon and olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Into a 400 degree oven divide cauliflower, red onions and olive oil amongst 2 baking sheets- mix all together to coat with the oil. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper over top. Pop into oven.
  2. Check every 10 minutes or so to stir and see if it is starting to get nice brown crispy edges – that is what you are going for. Mine took about 30 minutes total, but keep an eye on it – will depend on how big your pieces are and how hot your oven really is (I haven’t met one that is calibrated correctly – oven thermometer!!)
  3. In a large bowl combine cooked quinoa, chickpeas, spinach and toss all together. Let cauliflower cool and then toss that into the mix. You can add the salad dressing at this point and toss it all together – it also never hurts to finish this off with an additional drizzle of olive oil and juice of another lemon. Salt and pepper necessary at this time also to bring it all together.



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  • Caitlin

    I had the distinct pleasure of trying this salad at the sprinkle and it was delicious!! Thanks for posting the recipe Nicole!

    • Nicole

      My pleasure!!

  • Hanh

    yeah! thanks for posting the recipe. can’t wait to recreate the yumminess!