This marinated cauliflower salad recipe is perfect for a bbq, pot luck or for meal prep. A great low-carb alternative to pasta salad!
Made up of mostly pantry ingredients, this recipe is super easy to throw together and very tasty. Crispy raw cauliflower, roasted peppers, salty olives and a bit of red onion all tossed in a zesty Italian dressing – it’s the perfect year-round side dish.
Healthy, meal prep salads that you can keep in the refrigerator for a few days are clutch. Especially in the summer months when you want something light and healthy that makes you feel good and not sluggish. I love a no greens meal prep salad because you don’t have to worry about any of the ingredients getting wilted or soggy. The crisp, raw cauliflower holds up to the dressing and it just gets more flavorful as it marinates.
My favorite way to enjoy this salad is as a bbq side. It’s kind of like a low carb pasta salad with cauliflower instead of the noodles. I swear, you won’t miss the pasta! This is also the perfect recipe for a pot luck or get together as it’s totally stress free, make ahead and a real crowd pleaser.
Can you eat raw cauliflower?
Absolutely! In fact, this is by far the most enjoyable way to consume raw cauliflower. It often makes an appearance on a crudités platter but it can be pretty dry, tough and unappealing on it’s own. Marinating the cauliflower in a delicious, zesty dressing for a while makes it a bit more tender and full of flavor. I’m always thinking of ways to incorporate more veggies into my diet and cauliflower is really good for you. If you’re anything like me, you’re more likely to make healthier choices when it’s already prepped and ready to go in the fridge. It’s the perfect meal prep salad.
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The ingredients for this salad are super simple. It’s mostly pantry ingredients that I always have on hand for any meal prep salad.
Raw cauliflower: You can save a step and buy a bag of pre-cut fresh cauliflower florets. A whole head of cauliflower takes just a few minutes to break down. It must be fresh, not frozen.
Roasted peppers: I always have a jar of these roasted red peppers in my pantry. You can even find them in the grocery store already sliced into thin strips which will save you another step!
Kalamata olives: I LOVE olives and I always have a jar of Kalamata olives on hand. They’re my favorite.
Red Onion: I recommend sticking with red onion as it has the best flavor for this raw salad.
Fresh Parsley: Adds some freshness and a pop of green color.
Italian Dressing: This Simple Homemade Italian Dressing recipe is super simple to throw together. If you’re in a time crunch or have some on hand, just use your favorite Italian dressing or vinaigrette. I highly recommend this Garlic Expressions for a simple all-purpose dressing and marinade.
Start by making the Italian Dressing so that the flavors have time to meld. Next, break down a whole head of cauliflower into small florets. Each piece should be about the size of a grape. Place the cauliflower florets in a large bowl.
If your jarred roasted peppers are whole, slice into thin strips. Slice Kalamata olives in half. Dice red onion and mince fresh parsley. Add the chopped veggies to the bowl with the cauliflower.
Pour dressing over ingredients and gently toss together with a wooden spoon until everything is well combined. Allow it to marinate for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Before serving, toss to redistribute flavors.
This meal prep salad is delicious as is but there are a few substitutions that you can make based on your preferences or whatever you have in the pantry.
You can substitute banana peppers for the roasted peppers.
If you don’t care for Kalamata olives, black olives with work nicely too.
You can also play with the fresh herbs and add a combination of parsley, basil and oregano.
This recipe is vegan but sometimes I like to add in a bit of parmesan cheese or fresh mozzarella because I love cheese in basically anything!
Tips and notes
Let this salad sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving. It will be at it’s best after about 24 hours for 2-3 days. It can last about 4-5 days in the refrigerator, depending on the freshness of the cauliflower and herbs.
Be sure to break down the cauliflower into small, evenly sized florets for best results. This ensures that they stay crunchy but also absorb maximum flavor.
The ingredients are few and simple so using good quality ingredients will make a difference!
Store meal prep salads in an airtight container in the refrigerator for maximum freshness.
More delicious salads
Marinated Cauliflower Salad
- 1 head cauliflower broken down into small, grape-sized florets
- ½ 12oz jar of roasted red peppers, sliced
- ½ cup halved kalamata olives
- ½ small red onion diced
- 2 tbsp fresh minced parsley
- ¾ cup (or more) Simple Homemade Italian Dressing or your favorite vinaigrette see note
- If you're using Homemade Italian Dressing, make the dressing first so the flavors have time to meld.
- Break down a whole head of cauliflower into grape-sized florets
- Dice red onion, mince parsley and if needed, slice roasted peppers and Kalamata olives.
- In a large bowl, gently toss together cauliflower florets, mined onion, parsley and sliced roasted peppers and Kalamata olives.
- Pour over dressing and gently combine with a wooden spoon until all ingredients are incorporated.
- Cover and let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.