Roasted Cauliflower and Chick Pea Salad

There is a salad on our table almost every single night. Usually it's lettuce. More often than not, just a bowl of slivered romaine with a tart vinaigrette. Super simple.

But when I go out, I am always drawn to more intricate salads, and I am a pushover for those that have a combination of cooked and raw vegetables. And if some of those vegetables are roasted - those caramelized edges, that deep, sweet flavor ... and oh, the textures!

The original inspiration for this salad was a cup of leftover roasted cauliflower in the fridge. (The fact that there was leftover roasted cauliflower is actually kind of amazing - usually every last floret is inhaled). I resisted simply eating it cold out of its container, and decided to toss it with some lettuce and dress it all up. Boy, was it good. So then I got inspired to take this concept to another level.

The next time, I roasted a whole lot of cauliflower, and partway through the roasting added some chickpeas to the pan for just the right combination of firm and chewy.

The lemon tahini dressing easily partners with the chickpeas - collectively, they are basically the ingredients in traditional hummus. The dressing is thick, almost mayonnaise-like in texture. At first you'll basically dollop it on, but then when you toss the vegetables and lettuce with the dressing it will coat everything with creaminess.

And because we just love lettuce, a whole pile of thinly sliced romaine hearts provides the crunch against the tenderness of the roasted vegetables. A shower of thinly sliced red onion is the kicker, plus some herby brightness from cilantro or parsley. Choose between the two, or use a combo for yet another layer of flavor.

On an average weeknight this will probably not be our side salad. But it is likely to show up the next time I'm making a big meal with a Mediterranean or Middle Eastern bent, as the show-off salad that threatens to upstage the main dish. And I will secretly hope it doesn't all get eaten, and that there will be a container nestled in the back of the fridge for my lunch the next day.