A healthier take on Buffalo Cauliflower Wings, this Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Tahini Ranch fits the bill for those days when you’re craving healthy comfort food.
Some people know me as Allison, while others know me as “The Girl Who Comes to Parties Bearing Gifts of Buffalo Cauliflower Wings.” Hey, I suppose there are worse names, so I’ll take it.
Since making Buffalo cauliflower wings for the first time in 2016, they have quickly become a fan favourite at all manner of parties and celebrations. In fact, I don’t know if I’m even allowed to serve/bring anything else as an appetizer, because I don’t dare ask. I just do what is expected. There has never been an occasion when the entire platter of cauliflower wings and cool ranch wasn’t demolished within minutes.
At vegan restaurants, my eyes zero in on the Buffalo cauliflower offerings. At Be Love in Victoria, BC, my favourite appetizer of all time is their cauliflower wings with served with carrots, celery, and cashew ranch. At Pure Kitchen in Ottawa, the ultimate vegan junk food is what they call the Liberty Wrap, with deep-fried Buffalo cauliflower, shredded carrots, tomato, pickles, and ranch, all wrapped up in a warm flour tortilla.
What is it about Buffalo cauliflower wings that has captured the hearts of vegans and non-vegans alike the world over? It’s not as though cauliflower is particularly alluring in and of itself. Sure, it offers a myriad of health benefits, but it’s not as like it alone causes anyone’s mouths to water. And I have a feeling that most of us aren’t gobbling up a platter of deep fried (or in my case, baked) cauliflower for the health benefits, LOL. I reckon that our collective adoration of this vegan sensation comes not from the cauliflower, but from the crispy coating, the spicy-salty Buffalo sauce, and the creamy, cooling sauce that is often served alongside.
For this recipe, I wanted to capture all the crave-worthy flavours and textures of Buffalo cauliflower wings, but I wanted it to be a bit more redeeming from a nutritional standpoint. I omitted the batter that would typically be used on Buffalo cauliflower, and instead simply roasted the cauliflower and added hot sauce at the end of the cooking time. I roasted some chickpeas for crunch and threw those on top of a bed of crisp romaine, carrots, celery, tomato, lacto fermented pickles, and red onion. For the dressing, I veered away from the cashews that are usually used in dairy-free creamy dressings and instead opted for less traditional tahini to create a delicious dill ranch!
And as a side note, I really created this salad to welcome the new season of Stranger Things, which although I haven’t watched, I have been told is a great show. Therefore, an alternative name for this salad is “Stranger Wings,” and I would totally recommend serving it at your next viewing party! 😀
How to make a Bomb Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Tahini Ranch
Step 1: Chop a medium head of cauliflower into florets.
Step 2: Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast for 20 minutes, then add hot sauce and roast for 15 minutes more.
Step 3: While the cauliflower is roasting, place 1 ½ cups of cooked chickpeas on another baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, and roast for 20 minutes.
Step 4: Make the creamy tahini ranch by combining tahini, lemon juice, yogurt, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, garlic, water, and maple syrup in a blender. Stir in 2 tablespoon chopped dill afterwards.
Step 5: Chop the lettuce, carrots, celery, tomato, red onion, and pickles, place in a bowl, and top with the chickpeas and cauliflower. Drizzle with ranch and dig in!
While this salad qualifies as a light meal in and of itself, it also makes the perfect side dish to burgers, tacos, and more!
A healthier take on Buffalo cauliflower wings, this salad recipe retains all the flavours of its counterpart. Cauliflower is roasted instead of fried and combined with chickpeas, vegetables, and a creamy tahini ranch dressing.
- 1 medium head cauliflower, chopped into florets
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- A couple pinches of sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2½ tbsp vegan hot sauce of choice (not too hot- Frank’s original has the right amount of heat for this recipe)
- 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas
- ¾ tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ tsp each fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp garlic powder
Creamy Tahini Ranch Dressing
- ⅓ cup tahini
- ⅓ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
- ¼ cup filtered water
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp pure maple syrup
- ¼ +⅛ teaspoon each fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup yogurt of choice (goat, sheep, coconut, soy, almond)
- 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
- 1 large head romaine lettuce
- 2 carrots, peeled and sliced thin
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 medium tomato, diced
- 3 pickles (I use Bubbie’s lacto fermented pickles), sliced into rounds
- ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the cauliflower florets on one baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the salt and pepper and toss to coat. Place the cauliflower in the oven and roast for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the hot sauce; toss to coat. Roast for 15-18 minutes more, or until crispy.
- While the cauliflower is in the oven, place the chickpeas on the second baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Toss to coat and roast for 20-22 minutes, or until crispy. They will crisp up more as they cool, so do not over-bake.
- Make the dressing by blending all dressing ingredients except the dill in a blender. Transfer to a bowl and whisk in the dill. Transfer to an airtight jar until ready to use.
- Chop or tear the romaine lettuce and place in a large bowl. Top with the other vegetables and pickles.
- Once the cauliflower and chickpeas have cooled fully, add them to the salad bowl. To serve, divide the salad evenly between four bowls and top with desired amount of dressing.
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- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Side Dish
- Cuisine: American, Vegan
This recipe marks the sixth in the July Salad a Day Challenge! How are you enjoying it so far?
If you make this recipe, let us know how you liked it by leaving a comment below, and if you post a photo on Instagram, be sure to tag @upbeet.kitchen and #upbeetkitchen so we can see!