Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Pesto Dressing
Cauliflower Salad with creamy avocado pesto, sweet cherry tomatoes, and spicy arugula is about to become your go-to recipe to bring to a picnic or serve on the deck with dinner. The flavors are bright, fresh, and so delicious!
Why you'll fall in love with this cauliflower salad
- Avocado Pesto. Yes, this is a thing. It's a dreamy, creamy, magical thing.
- Cauliflower bites that are quickly steamed until crisp-tender have lots of nooks and crannies to soak up the magic pesto dressing.
- Sweet summer cherry tomatoes.
- A few little bites of spicy arugula and red onion.
- Crunchy bits of almonds.
- It's so easy to make ahead, travels well, and the bright color steals the show.
Move over pesto pasta salad, there's a new kid in town.
Magical Avocado Pesto Salad Dressing
We call this cauliflower salad, but it's really all about the pesto avocado dressing. The cauliflower is only in the picture to help us get more of the delicious dressing into our mouths. Thank you for that, cauliflower.
Adding a ripe avocado to pesto sauce makes it super creamy and perfect to use as a pesto salad dressing. Also, since avocados are so rich you don't need to add any cheese to this pesto. Give it up for dairy-free pesto!
There's one more thing you'll love about this pesto salad dressing: It's so easy to make! Just pop everything into your blender then turn it on. Once the pesto is mostly smooth, pour it over the steamed cauliflower and your salad is ready.
Hot or cold cauliflower salad?
Your choice! In the summer, I like to serve this cold. In the winter, I like it hot. It's delicious both ways.
To make this a cold cauliflower salad, I simply run cold water over the steamed cauliflower until it has cooled. To make this a hot cauliflower salad, pour the pesto dressing over the hot steamed cauliflower. So easy!
What to serve with this cauliflower salad recipe
I like to keep dinner fuss-free. So when I serve this salad, I often opt to serve it beside some simple baked or grilled chicken. Because this cauliflower salad is almost like a faux pesto pasta salad (in other words, it's filling) you really don't need to anything other than a protein to go beside it.
Here are my favorite main dishes to serve beside this salad:
- Perfect Baked Chicken Breasts
- Juicy Baked Pork Chops
- Honey Garlic Chicken
- Grilled Chimichurri Chicken
- Smoky Gochujang BBQ Chicken
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Favorite Salad Recipes
- Best Greek Salad Recipe
- Bacon Kale Caesar Salad
- Grilled Peach Salad with Curried Pecans and Honey Vinaigrette
- Thai Chopped Salad with Mango Sesame Dressing
- Crispy Kale Salad with Roasted Beets
Cauliflower Salad Recipe
If you love this recipe as much as we do, let us know with a 5-star rating!
- 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 1 ounce baby arugula
- ¼ cup minced red onion
- ¼ cup chopped toasted almonds
- 1 cup basil
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ¼ cup toasted cashews
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Juice from 1 ½ lemons
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 ripe avocado
- Add the cauliflower pieces to a medium-sized pot an add an inch of water. Bring the pot to a boil over high heat, cover the pot, and steam for 3-5 minutes, depending on how soft you like your cauliflower. Drain the water from the pot and, if serving cold, run cold water over the cauliflower until it is cold.1 large head of cauliflower
- Add the basil, olive oil, cashews, salt, lemon juice, and garlic to your blender and blend on high until mostly smooth. Add the avocado and ½ cup of water and blend once more for a few seconds. If the pesto is too thick to pour, add a little more water.1 cup basil, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup toasted cashews, 1 teaspoon salt, Juice from 1 ½ lemons, 1 clove garlic, 1 ripe avocado
- Add the steamed cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, arugula, red onion, and almonds to a large bowl, pour the avocado pesto over the top, and toss to coat.1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 ounce baby arugula, ¼ cup minced red onion, ¼ cup chopped toasted almonds
This was very delicious. I had it hit the first night, and cold the next day. (Minus the Arugula, because I didn’t have any). Very tasty
What if I already have premade pesto? How would I make the dressing?
While the flavor will likely be quite different (store-bought pesto always tastes a different) you could try blending some with an avocado to make it creamy. 🙂
I haven’t made this recipe yet, but I have to say pesto with raw cauliflower is the delicious! I make my favorite pesto and just coat the cauliflower florets then add a pinch of lemon zest and a few teaspoons of lemon juice and add it to a green salad (or any salad). I can’t wait to try this variation since I know cashews are the best for their nutritional benefits (and flavor!).
I love the pesto! Can I make extra and freeze it?
I haven’t tried freezing this pesto but I have frozen other pestos with success. I’m not 100% certain that the avocado will freeze well though so you might want to try a little before freezing a whole batch. 🙂
Yes. Store it in the freezer in an airtight container with a layer of olive oil over the top. Lasts about 3 months
Loved this salad. Perfect timing as we received a big bag of basil in our CSA bucket this past weekend.
Such perfect timing!
If there are leftovers, does the pesto stay green and not separate overnight in the fridge? Looks tasty.
It does! It’s not quite as vibrant the next day but it is still great to eat as leftovers. 🙂