Sweet roasted veggies with crisp fresh lettuce, red quinoa crisps, and a tangy dressing is a mouth-watering combination. This Vegetable Citrus Salad can be a fabulous side dish, or a hearty, vegetarian or vegan entrée salad. Perhaps it’s the way I’m wired — with my huge sweet tooth and all — but I think any vegetable that’s caramelized is amazingly delicious.
Depending on the vegetable, roasting it at a very high temperature and bringing all of its natural sugars to the surface can turn it into something almost as sweet as candy. Really! No joke!
What do we mean by caramelization?
- Whether you’re cooking with an oven and a sheet pan, a sauté pan on the fire on the stove, a toaster, a grill, etc., when the heat comes in contact with the food (whatever it is), it brings the natural sugars to the surface and they brown. It’s that delicious “brown” part that’s caramelized. Get it? (Don’t ask me the science of this — as I will always tell you, I’m a chef, not a scientist!)
- It happens with all the foods we cook!
- It’s the crust on bread.
- The golden crispiness on French fries.
- The part of the onions that get stuck to the bottom of the sauté pan when you’re making a stir fry.
- The browned edges of a cookie.
- It’s the “crust” on a pan seared steak.
And the list goes on, and on.
It’s so sweet that I could eat an entire bowl of sizzling, perfectly roasted cauliflower as happily as I could eat a bowl of chocolate. (Okay fine, almost as happily.)
And in this vegetable citrus salad, we blend all of that natural sweetness with fresh, crisp lettuce and tomatoes, and a tangy citrus balsamic dressing.
And it’s the Red Quinoa Crisps (pictured below), that really add a special and unique touch to finish this salad!
They work much in the way nuts or croutons might.
Enjoy every bite of this lovely Roasted Vegetable Citrus Salad.
*Please note that the prep/cooking times do not include making the quinoa crisps, which takes about 25 minutes. (The recipe for the Quinoa Crisps is here.)
- olive oil for the baking sheet
- 1 1/2 pounds cauliflower, washed and dried, cored, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1- pound carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces (you don't have to peel them -- it's just my preference)
- 3 heads Romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted, oughly chopped
- 1 1/2 cups tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces (about 2 medium-sized tomatoes)
- zest from 1 large lime
- juice from 1 large lime
- zest from 2 oranges
- juice from 1 to 2 oranges
- splash of balsamic vinegar
- splash extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup Quinoa Crisps (Click here for the recipe)
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, adjust 2 racks near the center, with a several inches between them.
Generously coat the bottom of a baking sheet with olive oil. Add the cauliflower pieces to one side, and the carrots to the other. Mix them around a bit to be sure they are well coated with the oil -- but keeping them on their own sides. Season generously with salt and pepper and place in the preheated 500 degree F oven until they are very well caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes per side. (Flip them halfway through the cooking process.) Let them cool to room temperature on the baking sheet. They should cook at a similar rate, but the cauliflower might be done first -- just remove it from the baking sheet earlier.
Add the Romaine, olives and tomatoes to a large salad bowl.
Once the roasted cauliflower and carrots have cooled to room temperature, add them to the salad bowl and toss.
Now add the citrus zest, citrus juices, balsamic vinegar and oil. (You can always add more juice, vinegar and/or oil if you'd like to.) Then season to taste with salt and pepper. (Here's How to Season to Taste.)
Sprinkle the Quinoa Crisps on top and serve. (Here's how to make the Quinoa Crisps.)
You might like to add crumbled Cotija or Feta cheese and thinly sliced red onion to this salad -- about ½ cup of each. I'm going to next time I make it.