BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH TAHINI RANCH

Buffalo cauliflower salad with chickpeas & tahini ranch (vegan) - The First Messpin it!Buffalo cauliflower salad with chickpeas & tahini ranch (vegan) - The First Messpin it!pin it!garden lettuce and herbs - The First Messpin it!Buffalo cauliflower, pre-roast - The First Messpin it!
This is one of those non-recipes that I make and casually share on Instagram (within the context of it being our dinner) that prompts comments like “RECIPE!!!!!,” which is admittedly not my favourite style of comment. It reads like an outright demand, and since I’m super polite, I expect a “Please” or “Would you consider sharing this?” in the mix. Maybe this is the immediacy of visual social media at work, but is it so much to ask people to be nice and considerate of time when they ask for something? Also, the all caps. (Please) don’t yell at me when I’m just trying to post a pic of my dinner.

Despite all of this, I’m caving and posting a defined recipe for our almost weekly Buffalo cauliflower salad extravaganza. I’m kind of stumped on what to share here lately because it feels like certain things are falling flat, or I’m just not as jazzed on certain aspects of content creation like I used to be. It’s a summer slump or something, I’m sure. I tend to be dreamier/less focused in this season. But also I’m planning some new projects and new book related events for the fall, so part of this whole thing is me just trying to enjoy the downtime while it’s here I think.

I always have this idea that I don’t need to seek outside guidance/any sort of reader feedback for blog content, but lately I can’t help but wonder if that’s still true. Food blogs, social media, and just the massive, highly varied web of content that’s available has shifted so much in the last year or so. Feel free to hit me up in the comments with what kind of stuff you like to see popping up here. Are you still into happy hour posts? Is the focus on main courses/hearty stuff still preferable? Should I share my meal prep strategies? I want this space to be useful and to bring even a tiny amount of joy/ease into people’s lives. Your constructive feedback is so appreciated.

Onto this salad. I don’t regularly make Buffalo cauliflower in the style of the “wings” that are super popular (and delicious). I just roast florets in a Buffalo-style sauce and some smoked paprika. It’s lighter, way easier, and cuts straight to the point. The florets crisp up all nice and spicy, and I roast some chickpeas alongside for even more texture (and for some protein). The tahini ranch dressing is definitely the highlight here. In my omnivore days, I absolutely detested ranch anything. And in my server days, when I laid out a beautiful dish that was greeted with “CAN I GET SOME RANCH?,” I mixed too much of my personal feeling with professional response and the whole thing was awkward. For some reason though, I’m all over plant-based versions of the dressing. Guess it was just the dairy throwing me off? I don’t know, but this ranch rules and you’ll want to eat it on everything. Summer of salads and love, guys.

wild dill - The First Messpin it!vegan tahini ranch dressing - The First Messpin it!roasted Buffalo cauliflower & chickpeas - The First Messpin it!salad prep - The First Messpin it!Buffalo cauliflower salad with chickpeas & tahini ranch (vegan) - The First Messpin it!
BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER SALAD WITH CHICKPEAS & TAHINI RANCH RECIPE
Print the recipe here!
SERVES: 2 as a main, 4-5 as a side
NOTES: It’s definitely crucial to get a Buffalo-style hot sauce here. I can’t totally explain the flavour nuances of sauces in the Buffalo-style, but there’s a heavy emphasis on salt and tanginess at work. I like Tessemae’s because it tastes good and the ingredient list is wholesome.I know garlic powder is kind of a “Wha?!” ingredient here, but it adds that definitively ranch-y flavour–more so than fresh garlic, honestly.

TAHINI RANCH INGREDIENTS:
¼ cup tahini (I like Soom brand)
¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from about 1 lemon)
¼ cup filtered water
1 teaspoon grainy mustard
1 teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon nutritional yeast
1 green onion, finely minced
1 sprig of fresh dill, minced
sea salt & ground black pepper, to taste

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER SALAD:
3 heaped cups small cauliflower florets (from about ½ a large head)
2 teaspoons avocado or other heat-tolerant oil, divided
1 tablespoon Buffalo-style hot sauce
1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
1 cup cooked chickpeas, dried with a clean dishtowel
2 stalks celery
½ small red onion, peeled
1 medium head of red leaf lettuce (or romaine, butter lettuce etc.)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Make the tahini ranch: In a medium bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, water, mustard, garlic powder, nutritional yeast, green onion, dill, salt, and pepper. If the dressing seems too thick, whisk in more water by the teaspoon until pourable. Check the seasoning and set aside.

Place the cauliflower florets on the baking sheet. Pour 1 teaspoon of the oil and the Buffalo sauce on top. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of the smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Toss the cauliflower to coat. Push the cauliflower over to one side of the baking sheet and then slide it in the oven. Set a timer for 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, toss the chickpeas with remaining teaspoon of oil, ½ teaspoon smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.

At the 15 minute mark, remove the cauliflower from the oven and give it a light toss. Transfer the chickpeas to the empty half of the baking sheet. Slide the baking sheet back into the oven for another 15 minutes, or until the cauliflower florets are browned and the chickpeas are slightly crisp.

While the cauliflower and chickpeas are roasting, thinly slice the celery stalks. Then, slice the red onion into thin half moons. Chop the lettuce.

To serve, heap the plates with lettuce, celery, and red onions. Carefully transfer the cauliflower and chickpeas to the tops of the salads. Drizzle salads with tahini ranch and serve!

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  • Stine Schjellerup Olsen26/07/2017 - 4:59 am

    I love your recipes Laura, I always get very excited when I see you’ve posted a new recipe on your blog :-) I’m really into hearty, filling dinners, lunches and perhaps as a new feature; snacks! I always seem to get hungry between lunch and dinner and I eat the same ol’ boring snacks every day and would love it if you’d consider posting vegan and healthy snack recipes here on your blog. Just an idea :-) take care.ReplyCancel

  • Lee26/07/2017 - 6:30 am

    Hi Laura! Thank you for sharing this recipe, that tahini ranch looks amazing :) Although I do love the happy hour and hearty recipes, I would like to see the meal prep component as I believe it helps with other plant based cooks (considering short life of produce and such). Ah! And as always, your garden photos are just a pleasure to look at :) I’ve planted a vegetable garden myself this year and there is nothing as just going there and grab my fresh dinner and watch things grow – makes me so happy!ReplyCancel

  • suzanne26/07/2017 - 7:39 am

    please don’t change a thing-love it all. thanks so much for all the inspirationReplyCancel

  • Karlie26/07/2017 - 7:54 am

    Thanks for sharing the recipe Laura! And enjoy your downtime, that’s what summer is for :) I love seeing your happy hour posts the most!ReplyCancel

  • Melissa26/07/2017 - 8:03 am

    Definitely need to make this soon!

    I find coming up with hearty, savory breakfast ideas challenging. I dislike sweet things for breakfast, and I used to rely heavily on eggs for substance, but now I find myself falling a bit short much of the time. More ideas for that would be great! And yes–snacks!ReplyCancel

  • Shannon26/07/2017 - 9:05 am

    Always love your hearty mains! Would love to hear your meal prep strategies too. Some time ago you also posted some protein bars that were delicious and I would love to know what other kinds of stuff you eat after a workout.ReplyCancel

  • deborah26/07/2017 - 9:09 am

    Yes Please for all of it! I love your website. Keep up the great work. It is so inspiring and the recipes and photography rock!ReplyCancel

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker26/07/2017 - 9:10 am

    I basically love everything of yours, please don’t change a dang thing :) I was a ranch FIEND before I cut out most dairy, so this version makes me even happier!ReplyCancel

  • Brittany Scully26/07/2017 - 10:03 am

    Laura, keep on rocking lady. Everything you do is stellar and the real appreciative fans are happy with any content you send our way. :) Continuing with hearty mains is a must in my opinion (because your meals are always amazing!) and I think the happy hour sets you apart from some of the other bloggers out there.

    I second recipes on snacks, savory breakfasts, and meal prep. Also, this may be a weird request, but I know you posted a picture of the inside of your fridge once or perhaps it was posted on a sponsor’s IG… Could you post a picture of your freezer? And/or talk about how and what you freeze, the types of storage you use, etc.

    All the pleases and thank yous!!! Enjoy your summer and the lovely outdoors.

    Brittany :)ReplyCancel

  • McKenzie26/07/2017 - 10:06 am

    You deserve some down time. Take a month or more off from blogging and nobody would fault you for it! Your readers are dedicated (at least I am). I love all of your posts and beautiful photos, and I even “save” them for quiet moments in my day when I know I can fully absorb them. I love your more philosophical posts and seeing what you’re reading, and I also love breakfast ideas because I tend to fall on smoothies or oatmeal for plant-based breakfasts and sometimes that gets old.ReplyCancel

  • Heather26/07/2017 - 10:49 am

    I always look forward to your recipes. The photos are always beautiful and you always bring some unique element to the recipe even if it’s a simple concoction. I think in the overstimulus of social media it is natural to sometimes feel overwhelmed with how accessible everything is now and to keep yourself unique to yourself and objective your visions and goals when everything is so upfront. But you always manage to do that. And we love you for it. I completely agree with you on the CAPITALS issue. I work in customer service and sometimes people come to our online chat to ask for a simple thing in capitals and it immediately turns me off and a bit defensive, I know, isn’t it awful! Anyways, that being said I think this is just peoples way to tell you how urgently they hope you can take the time to post a recipe for your dinners. Keep trucking darling and enjoy the downtime. I can assure you we are always here to support! I’d like to definitly have more meal prep ideas and really how you plan to eat what you eat during the week. Like if you batch, make a meal plan, etc. This is really interesting to those of us crunched for time or even budget and it’s always nice to see it from someome who seems to always have it all together. Love and Light – HeatherReplyCancel

  • Shelby26/07/2017 - 2:47 pm

    Hi Laura,

    First, this salad sounds fantastic and I look forward to trying it this week. I’m definitely a huge fan of the happy hour posts. There tends always to be something new and interesting or inspirational. And I love your ideas for cozy beverage treats! You’re recipes are always fantastic so I feel like you could post about pretty much any part of a meal. Meal prep strategies would definitely be much appreciated! Sometimes I feel that’s the harder part to tackle.

    Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • kate s.26/07/2017 - 3:07 pm

    I love all your posts and recipes but honestly I could come here and just look at the photos and swoon. Any content you post, even if it’s a recipe I’m probably not going to try, is interesting and beautiful. Thank you so much for this blog and the cookbook, which I sometimes just browse through to relax, even if I’m not cooking.

    I do like the idea someone mentioned of seeing your pantry/fridge/freezer and maybe what you buy weekly/monthly/daily. Sometimes i see recipes and wonder if I’m supposed to have these things just laying around the house because most of the time I don’t.

    Also, as a Midwestern girl living in California–I’m drooling over this salad with ranch! :)ReplyCancel

  • Denise Parsons26/07/2017 - 4:17 pm

    You always inspire me! Keep on keepin’ on! ;)ReplyCancel

  • Jessie Snyder26/07/2017 - 4:35 pm

    I got the chills reading this post, like, “was she in my head last night?!” Because I have had the same feelings this year and they have been floating around my mind too this week especially. Thanks for sharing and be so candid laura <3. Love this salad too, you are the flavor combo queen to me always.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth26/07/2017 - 6:04 pm

    Hi Laura,
    I am not a food blogger but I’m really glad you said what you did about how demanding people can be for recipes on social media. I love your blog for the beautiful photography, relaxing vibe, and unique-but-accessible recipes, but I also really appreciate your voice. You can be kind and generous, and also real and straightforward. It is very refreshing and I wish more people had the courage to do that.

    I also just want to say that I am loving your cookbook. I have been making the sunshine everything crackers on repeat this summer, to eat for dinner with some cashew cheese, veggies and fruit – they are great! Thank you for everything you do in this space!ReplyCancel

  • Jessica26/07/2017 - 6:46 pm

    In all honestly, I love everything you make. I feel like you switch it up enough to give a good variety of meal, drink and snack options. I especially love your sauces though, and with summertime now I find I am in the kitchen less, but still love to have a good meal. So more dips, spreads and sauces would be something I would be a little more interested in to eat with all the fresh produce. But really, whatever you create that works for you, I’m sure will be amazing :)ReplyCancel

  • Kathryn26/07/2017 - 6:51 pm

    This recipe is speakin’ my language. Can’t wait to try it.

    Laura – As so many comments have already said, thank you for not just your wonderful recipes and beautiful photos and life goals and amazing writing (honestly your writing is one of my favorite things about your cookbook and blog), but also thank you for your honesty and openness. Sometimes your IG pics inspire an internal, “AH HOW DO YOU MAKE,” so it’s nice to hear straight from you that to actually post that is a dick move and I totally respect that ;)

    To answer your inquiry, after many years, I’m still super happy with your content. I especially love Cleo pics, lol. Anyway, thanks again for all you are willing to share of your talents.ReplyCancel

  • Ann26/07/2017 - 9:58 pm

    I love to hear what you are pulling from the garden and cooking now for dinner. The combinations of flavors from around the world that explode in the mouth are wonderful. For the first time I made the eggplant flatbread this week, fell asleep dreaming about it and had to make it again 2 days later. Thank you for your inspiration!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel Mauro27/07/2017 - 12:45 am

    Hi Laura,
    Thank you so much for sharing this fabulous recipe. I doubled it (and added some sun gold tomatoes) and fed two hungry guys tonight and myself. It was absolutely delicious and came together exactly as your recipe calls for. Super easy and fast. It’s officially on the rotation! Your prep photos, finished product photos and explanations of ingredients are always great and so useful. Having never tried buffalo sauce nor eaten a chicken wing, your explanation of what to aim for when choosing the right hot sauce was crucial info. I am always on the lookout for interesting main courses and am always excited to prepare your imaginative and deeply flavorful creations. Thank you for the continued inspiration.ReplyCancel

  • Maria27/07/2017 - 12:07 pm

    thanks for this recipe…. I am getting bored with my limited ability to make good tasting vegan or vegetarian foods. I also have your book which is an amazing resource.
    mariaReplyCancel

  • Amber27/07/2017 - 1:15 pm

    Hi Laura! I just stumbled across your blog and I want to tell you – it will be a consistent destination for me. Your photos are beautiful, your posts are so easy and fun to read, and your recipes – they all look DELISH!! I love food and eating healthy is a huge priority of mine (Check out my Peaches + Kale Summer Smoothie Recipe here –> https://healthyhabits.sendlane.com/view/healthyhabits) I am looking forward to having more time this evening to search through all the recipes!! Thank you!!
    xxo -AmberReplyCancel

  • renee byrd27/07/2017 - 1:37 pm

    that larry david gif aka you at the restaurant dealing with ranch requesters… haha i legit LOLed and watched it through a few times! that would by my face too! alsooooooo i hear you girl and i feel like that about content a lot. there’s just SO much of it out there. SO. MUCH. sometimes it feels like what we put out there is just a drop of water in the ocean. but i think summer is a down-time for blogging generally. people don’t read and comment as much. personally i love the way you post (more complex recipes balanced out by simple happy hour recipes). i think that makes your posting schedule realistic for you as a maker and keeps everyone happy — the folks who want only uber simple recipes and the folks (like me) who want the more detailed goodness. much love to you xoxoxReplyCancel

  • […] a few drool worthy recipes this week: Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Ranch, the REAL Low Mein, Green Borscht, Chilled Golden Soup with Sungold Tomatoes, Super Pink Roasted […]ReplyCancel

  • Meghan27/07/2017 - 5:08 pm

    Laura, to echo what a lot of commenters have already mentioned, I love everything about your site. I love the happy hour posts, because I love the cozy, delicious & healthy concoctions that you post as well as the links. I feel like it is a friend who is sharing what they are reading/vibing to at the moment and I love that it gives me something to think about and reflect on. I also have to say that I really enjoy all the recipes you post regardless of their “category”. Everything I have tried has been delicious, not to mention you post beautiful pictures of the process.

    You deserve a break! Your cookbook is beautiful and clearly a lot of effort, thought, and love were part of its creation.ReplyCancel

  • The VegHog28/07/2017 - 6:21 pm

    Can’t beat cauliflower and tahini combo! Very nice photos you have here :)ReplyCancel

  • […] Peach Burrata Salad via Nutmeg Nanny Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Ranch via The First Mess Pineapple Cucumber Lime Spritzers via Making Thyme for Health Sweet Potato […]ReplyCancel

  • Ashley29/07/2017 - 6:57 pm

    Thank you for sharing this recipe! I appreciate so much that you streamline the buffalo cauliflower process because I’m lazy/time crunched and I’ve only made goopy versions before that are just so, so sad. I also loath traditional ranch (I know, I’m weird) and am excited to try out tahini ranch because tahini = better.

    I really enjoy all of your recipes, but I find myself making your drinks (from happy hour or not) the most frequently. I do enjoy hearing others’ thoughts on meal prepping since I smash together bits and pieces of advice to figure out what works for me. And I’m always in need to some packed lunch inspiration! Keep on rocking and being your genuine, awesome self because we all love that.ReplyCancel

  • Deborah29/07/2017 - 8:15 pm

    Aloha Laura–I agree, too much rude loud (and now we can add foul) language in the headlines, we need to be nice to each other at least with our food blogs.:)
    I’m new to your corner and love your writing and recipes–thank you for making it easier to deduct meat from my diet several days a week–I made my own tahini for another of your dressings and now I can use the rest for this–
    DebReplyCancel

  • Cassie Autumn Tran29/07/2017 - 11:58 pm

    Love every single ingredient in this salad! Buffalo-style cauliflower is my favorite!ReplyCancel

  • […] Buffalo cauliflower + tahini ranch?! Yes please <3 […]ReplyCancel

  • Karen31/07/2017 - 9:43 am

    This recipe looks great…right up my alley – a simple, not too exotic or demanding recipe with too many moving parts.

    re. your invitation for feedback, I absolutely loved all of your posts leading up to your cookbook introduction late winter. Then, there was this long lull when every post was sponsored or some promotion of another person’s cookbook. This pattern plus your happy hour and drink concoction posts don’t interest me personally.ReplyCancel

  • Lori31/07/2017 - 11:23 pm

    This salad was amazing! I used broccoli instead of cauliflower, otherwise no changes. Whole family lived it.ReplyCancel

  • Anna01/08/2017 - 6:09 am

    Dear Laura,
    I don’t even know where to start. I appreciate so much that you wrote about all those demandings that you get from your fans and followers. The simple politeness would seem as rather obvious thing from people who doesn’t even know you personally, right? It seems that in this social-media ruled global world we have just forgotten what politeness is. I’m sorry for that and apologise to you deep from my heart. Although I have never (so far) made any demanding torward any food blogger, who knows, the moment has been so much closer to come that I had thought. But now is time to take a deep breath and let you do the same. I love your blog, your posts, your openess, the courage to do what seems right to you and share that with others. There is actually NOTHING I would change in your blog.
    But, if I may ask, could you maybe consider making this type of “breath-taking”, more advanced recipes, that kind of dishes that would astonish even the most unwilling omnivores? One problem I have with many vegan recipes is that when I share them with my omnivore friends and (especially!) family (for example on Christmas, Eastern and such BIG occasions) I always hear: “Nice… But it could never make a dish in a restaurant”. So I was thinking, maybe – from time to time, not even regularly – you could make that kind of “chef-style” thing? I only ask for that, because, instead of many (healty or not) food bloggers you really ARE a chef, you have experience in working in reastaurant. And I would love to see you taking us for a moment to professional cook work, let us feel for a moment that we can also cook “restaurant-style”.
    Any decision that you’ll make will please me and all your readers. But when you asked for suggestions, I couldn’t resist not to write my opinion, as I had been thinking about that already for some time. And I bet many other struggling-with-their-family’s-disrespect people too.

    Much love,

    AnnaReplyCancel

    • Anna01/08/2017 - 11:47 am

      Ugh… Sorry for my English.
      I only ask for that, because, UNLIKE many (healty or not) food bloggers you really ARE a chef, you have experience in working in reastaurant.
      Hopefully I haven’t made more as big mistakes as that one.ReplyCancel

  • Larissa01/08/2017 - 9:35 am

    Laura – thanks for this lovely recipe! I whipped this up quickly for dinner last night and it was a huge hit. Can’t wait to eat my leftovers for lunch (restraining myself from devouring it now).

    I love your happy hour posts, gives some good reads and also keeps me up to date on the latest additions to add to my smoothies and hot bevvie concoctions.

    The idea of meal prep posts sounds good too, always good to hear from the pros on that front. Really, I will read anything you post :)

    Sorry about all the demanding comments and negativity. People need to chill and realize that there is a person on the other side of the Instagram account/blog.

    Thanks for all the goodness!ReplyCancel

  • Abby01/08/2017 - 7:29 pm

    I love your happy hour posts! They’re something I look forward to because they’re fun and informative. Keep doing what you do! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Julie02/08/2017 - 10:16 am

    I love seeing a blog post notice in my inbox! Especially midweek when I’m tired and it’s hot and I am tempted to reach for takeout. Your posts remind and inspire me to cook beautiful and delicious food – and I’m always so much more satisfied than eating too salty tasteless food-in-a-box. Rejuvenated. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • […] from Bourbon and Honey Cauliflower Rice Carne Asada Bowls with Mango Salsa from Half Baked Harvest Buffalo Cauliflower Salad with Tahini Ranch from The First […]ReplyCancel

  • Andrea06/08/2017 - 9:21 am

    I’m new to plant based eating and I hate to cook. So I’m into any healthy plant based recipes that are delicious and EASY (not yelling – just emphasizing). I enjoy reading more complex ones but they are never gonna happen. Love the beautiful pictures as they make the plants more enticing. Any helpful hints, tips strategies etc are also appreciatedReplyCancel

  • Alison08/08/2017 - 10:00 pm

    I’m sorry for the rudeness of my fellow ‘posters’. I really appreciate your creativity both in the recipes and the photos (they are lovely). Please know what a profound impact your recipes have had on my wellbeing. Can’t wait to see what you dish up next!ReplyCancel

  • Tricia08/08/2017 - 11:01 pm

    Please and thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Charlotte09/08/2017 - 5:14 am

    Hello Laura,

    I attribute my conversion to (a 95%) plant-based life nearly entirely to the discovery of your website and I imagine this is the case for many others too. I hope you are really proud of your work.

    I mostly can’t choose between the yummies that you post but if there was one thing that I would really like to see is your tips on how to make a really smooth pistachio sauce – is there a way to do it without adding loads of oil?? I also would love to hear if you have any wisdom on swapping traditional ingredients out for plant – based ingredients e.g. eggs for aquafaba.

    Mega – appreciation and love from Charlotte in rainy Devon, England.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Schaub13/08/2017 - 9:08 am

    Love all your stuff! ❤️ I especially enjoy the Happy Hour posts. It would be helpful to see some meal prep posts too! Thank you !ReplyCancel

  • Nicole R16/08/2017 - 10:26 am

    My favorite blogs are those where the writer is true to their voice and shares just a bit of themselves, and that’s why I like yours. I don’t think it’s possible to follow the shifting tides of food trends with authenticity, and many writers get into a feedback loop with their readers. I like that this is the kind of place I can land and read about what is happening in your garden, your kitchen, and your mind – whether I have any interest in the recipe itself or not. Keep it up and I will keep reading.ReplyCancel

  • Amy18/08/2017 - 5:04 am

    Made this for dinner last night and it was SO GOOD! So much flavour – which is what I look for in a recipe. And I love a big hearty filling salad for dinner that doesn’t have too many steps but is still a meal on its own. I’ll be making this again.ReplyCancel

  • Joanie29/08/2017 - 10:13 am

    Hi! My husband and I just got married about two months ago, and we also switched to an primarily plant-based diet. I was really struggling to find recipes that we both loved and could share with our friends and neighbors. We started with this one and now always consult your blog when starting the week. Thank you so much for all that you’ve shared.ReplyCancel

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