This roasted cauliflower salad makes a healthy holiday dish


Deciding what to bring to holiday parties can be tough. The best options are healthy holiday recipes that add to the abundance and variety of the table – this roasted cauliflower salad with cranberries and pistachios is a tasty candidate.

What makes it even more convenient for holiday dinners is that it can be served at any temperature. Roasting the cauliflower brings out its natural mellow sweetness. Dried cranberries add a bit of tartness, and pistachios bring a bright green crunch. Finally, the maple mustard dressing tops off the dish with classic fall flavors that blend perfectly with the rest of the meal. 

What you’ll need to make this healthy holiday recipe:

For the dressing:

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbs maple syrup
  • 4 tsp whole-grain mustard

For the salad:

  • 2 heads cauliflower 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water and then drained

MORE: Wine pairings for all your favorite holiday dishes


This healthy holiday recipe is already low in allergens (it’s vegan and gluten free!) — but if you need a nut-free option, try swapping out roasted pumpkin seeds for the pistachios.

The first step is to roast the cauliflower. The best way to get a delicious golden-brown crispness is to roast with plenty of oil at high heat. This might take longer than other veggies because cauliflower has such a high water content, but trust us: It’s worth it. 

Core the cauliflower by cutting out as much of the stem as you can, and then slice the entire head like a loaf of bread. Break up any large wedges along the branches, and toss in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh thyme. Arrange in a single layer on a lined baking tray, and roast at 400F for 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. 

Meanwhile, shell the pistachios until you have ¾ cup of nuts. There’s no need to blanch them (who has the time?) — but removing some of the brown husk as you go lets their natural bright green show through for a more attractive dish. 

Next, soak the dried cranberries in boiling water for five minutes, drain, and pat dry. Not only does hot water help soften the texture of dried fruit, but a quick bath also removes some of the sugar, highlighting the tartness in this dish.

Up next is the dressing, and it couldn’t be simpler. Just whisk together the olive oil, maple syrup, mustard and red wine vinegar. Add a few cracks of black pepper, and you’re good to go.

You can save a dish by making this in the bottom of a bowl large enough for the whole salad. Normally, you’d add salt here, and the dressing should taste good on its own — but since the pistachios bring in so much saltiness and the cranberries add sweetness, hold off on adjusting seasonings until everything comes together.

MORE: Things to do before & after holiday meals to combat fatigue & fullness

Once the cauliflower is nice and crispy, toss it in the bowl, and add most of the cranberries and pistachios. Toss to coat with the dressing, and season to taste. When ready to serve this healthy holiday recipe, top with a sprinkle of the remaining berries and nuts for a beautiful pop of color.

Roasted cauliflower salad with cranberries and pistachios 




Yield 6 servings



  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 4 teaspoons whole-grain mustard


  • 2 heads cauliflower 
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 3/4 cup roasted, salted pistachios, shelled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water and then drained


  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Chop cauliflower, and arrange on two lined baking trays in single layer.
  3. Season cauliflower with olive oil, salt and pepper, tossing to coat and roast for 30 minutes or until golden and crisp.
  4. Cover dried cranberries in enough boiling water to submerge and allow to soak for five minutes, then drain and pay dry.
  5. Coursely chop pistachios, discarding large pieces of brown husks.
  6. Combine roasted cauliflower, most of pistachios, and cranberries in large bowl. Toss to coat with dressing.
  7. Sprinkle top with reserved nuts and berries.

Looking for another healthy holiday dish? Learn why sautéing a variety of mushrooms might give you the nutritional punch you need.