One of my key life-hacks is to cook extra of whatever I am having for dinner so I have the makings of a quick meal the following day. It takes no real effort to add another fish fillet or two to a sheet pan to roast, double a stew or soup recipe, or bake an additional couple of sweet potatoes, for example.
And, whenever I roast vegetables — which is very often this time of year — I make way more than I need for dinner so I’m left with plenty to play with days after. (Roasted vegetables keep for about three days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.)
This colorful salad came to be when I tossed leftover roasted cauliflower with a random smattering of other items in my refrigerator that needed to get eaten. The combination had such a scrumptious synergy, I have been making it ever since. I especially enjoy how the ingredients play off one another — the way the caramelized cauliflower offers a tender, earthy counterpoint to the crisp, sweet red pepper, fresh greens and hearty chickpeas. They are married in a bright, red wine vinaigrette seasoned with savory roasted garlic and dried oregano.
Although it is worth cooking the cauliflower just to make this recipe, I can’t think of a roasted vegetable that wouldn’t work here instead, so feel free to substitute whatever you have on hand. Just remember to toss a couple of garlic cloves on the tray with whatever vegetable you choose. (Otherwise, you can substitute a quarter teaspoon of granulated garlic in the dressing instead.) It’s a salad that can be served as a main course with some crusty bread, or to accompany roasted poultry, fish or meat.
And, as I discovered recently when I ordered a pizza, it’s ideal alongside a slice, balancing the plate beautifully, both flavor- and nutrition-wise.
Roasted Cauliflower Salad With Chickpeas, Red Pepper and Arugula
Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 45 minutes
Serve as a main course with some crusty bread, or as a side with pizza, or roasted poultry, fish or meat.
Make Ahead: The cauliflower and garlic can be prepared and refrigerated for up to 3 days in advance.
5 cups (about 1 pound 8 ounces) cauliflower florets (about 1 1/2-inch) wide
2 medium cloves garlic, unpeeled
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups baby arugula
1 medium red bell pepper, diced
3/4 cup cooked no-salt added chickpeas, drained and rinsed if canned
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees.
On a large, rimmed baking sheet, combine the cauliflower and the garlic cloves; drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and toss to coat. Roast, tossing once or twice, for about 30 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and golden brown in spots. Let the cauliflower and the garlic cool to room temperature. If not using right away, refrigerate until needed.
Squeeze the garlic out of its paper into a medium bowl; discard any tough stem ends. Sprinkle the garlic with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt, then mash with a fork until a fairly smooth paste is formed. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the bowl, along with the vinegar, oregano and black pepper and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl, toss together the roasted cauliflower, arugula, bell pepper and chickpeas. Drizzle with the dressing, toss to coat and serve.