chickpea cauliflower marinara bowl

Chickpea Cauliflower Marinara Bowls

Looking for a healthy, tasty lunch or an easy weeknight dinner? These chickpea cauliflower marinara bowls are here to save the day!

More Leafy Greens

I came up with this recipe as I made a goal to eat more leafy greens at lunch. (Specifically, I’m trying to make half my plate non-starchy vegetables, per the American Diabetes Association.) If you’re looking to up your veggie intake, salads and bowls are a great way to go! Just start with a green leafy base, add some protein, veggies, and whole grains, and top with a flavorful sauce.

(For more on how to build a tasty / hearty salad, see my post here!)

If you aren’t big on leafy green veggies yet, this is a great way to start. You control how much of your plate / bowl is kale. If you’re new to kale, maybe you start with orzo as the base and kale as your topping. But I think you might be surprised by how tasty kale is when prepared correctly šŸ˜‰ As you get used to it, feel free to adjust your ratios, maybe adding more kale and less orzo. You get to be the boss of your bowl!

Adapting Chickpea Cauliflower Marinara Bowls to meet your needs

This recipe is versatile depending on your dietary needs or health goals. Want low carb? Simply leave out the orzo. Need gluten free? Swap the orzo for some brown rice or chickpea pasta. Can’t do dairy? Just skip the parmesan cheese!

Ingredients for chickpea cauliflower marinara bowls


  • No Fuss Marinara


  1. Prep marinara: In a blender or food processor, add all the marinara ingredients: 1 can diced tomatoes, 2 Tbsp tomato paste, 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasoning. Pulse until combined but still slightly chunky.
  2. Cook orzo: Add 1 C water to a small saucepan. Bring water to boil over medium-high heat. Once water is boiling, add 1/2 C uncooked orzo. Cook orzo according to directions on package – usually boiling for about 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. When pasta is cooked, remove from heat and drain the water.
  3. Cook cauliflower: While orzo is cooking, place a large pan on medium heat. Put frozen cauliflower and 1/4 C water into pan, then cover. Simmer on medium with the lid on for about 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is easily pierced with a fork.
  4. Prep kale: Rinse kale leaves thoroughly, then shake dry. Cut along each side of the rib (the stalky, celery-like part) to remove the leaves. Toss the ribs in your compost šŸ˜‰ then chop leaves into small, bite-sized pieces. (The smaller the better, in my opinion!) Add all the chopped kale to a large bowl. Add 1 tsp of olive oil, a squirt of lemon juice, and a few shakes of salt. Then massage the kale leaves with your fingers, rubbing it all in until the leaves feel a little softer and look shiny. (This should take about 2 minutes.) This will cut through any bitterness and make the kale taste delicious!
  5. Chop cauliflower: Once cauliflower is cooked through, you can remove it from the pan and chop into smaller pieces if desired. (I find the frozen cauliflower chunks to be a little large for my liking.) Just be sure to wait a minute or two after removing from the pan so you don’t burn your fingers!
  6. Warm chickpeas: Add 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the cauliflower pan. Return the chopped cauliflower to the pan. Then add a can of chickpeas, along with the seasonings – 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 Tbsp Italian seasonings, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook on medium/high for 3 minutes, or until chickpeas and cauliflower get slightly toasted.
  7. Warm marinara: Pour some marinara into a microwave-safe container and warm on medium heat for 2 minutes.
  8. Assemble bowls: Grab a plate or bowl and create your masterpiece! I recommend starting with a base of kale, then adding some orzo, cauliflower, and chickpeas. Top with a generous helping of hearty homemade marinara. If desired, sprinkle some parmesan cheese and additional red pepper flakes on top. Enjoy!
A sprinkle of parmesan from my little helper šŸ™‚ She actually enjoyed some for lunch! Though her bowl had a little less kale than mine šŸ˜‰

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