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Using shaved cauliflower as a base to build a salad has so many wonderful possibilities. We are moving toward summer and with temperatures beginning to rise daily, it’s time to start moving away from making warming stews to getting creative with salads again. I don’t know about you, but I have never been a fan of eating raw cauliflower or broccoli (even when accompanied by a great dip). However if you put one of these vegetable powerhouses into a salad with all kinds of complimentary tasty bites, I’m all in and can eat the same salad for lunch for days. That is one of the great things about a cauliflower salad - it holds up well with no wilting and is just as appetizing on day three as it was on day one. Okay, well pretty darn close anyway. And if all this isn’t reason enough to add these to your summer salad favs, add the fact that cauliflower is low in calories, but jam packed with vitamins and minerals. In addition, it is high in both fiber and antioxidants and is low in carbs for those of you trying to stick to a low carb diet. As I said, I’m not crazy about eating straight raw cauliflower. If you are on the same page as me with respect to this, you’ll be interested to know that I think there is something to the shaving of the cauliflower when preparing it, as opposed to simply breaking it into pieces as is done in many cauliflower salad recipes. It seems to me that the shaving allows for a better mixing of flavors - you won’t get that one big bite of pure raw cauliflower taste all by itself. My love affair with cauliflower salads started with one I had at Wilshire on Market, our favorite restaurant in Louisville. With life as it is under COVid 19 social isolation, we so miss our Friday night dining at this lovely little place. But I digress… Anyway, the salad Chef Rory O’Connell had created that evening was simple, but so divine. It was a mix of shaved cauliflower, finely chopped walnuts, and golden raisins, all tossed in some type of lemon vinaigrette. He may have included some chopped apples in it as well and perhaps even some preserved lemon - this was quite some time ago and many cauliflower salad creations since, but regardless I’m sure either or both these options would be equally good. As I’ve eluded to, it was so delicious I had to go home and try to recreate it myself in the coming week. What I found in the process, was that shaved raw cauliflower salads are quite easy to make and this opened up a whole new window to salads with cauliflower as the main feature.
Using Shaved Cauliflower as a Salad Base
Essentially I start with a decent size head of cauliflower and typically use about half of it in the salad. This will make enough salad for Curt and I to eat one day and for me to continue to have for lunch for a couple of days following. You begin by simply slicing the cauliflower about 1/8th of an inch thick. Some pieces will be larger than others, but that’s okay. You can easily break any really big pieces in half with your fingers after you get done slicing. I almost always add golden raisins, black raisins or currents - no rhyme or reason here, more just what I’m in the mood for that day. I also like to add some kind of fruit, as the sweetness is a nice contrast to the cauliflower. The added crunch of apples and pears works really well, but l have also tossed in berries or even chopped up pieces of mango. All of this gets mixed with some kind of lemon vinaigrette and then you can add toasted chopped nuts of some sort before serving. Adding the nuts in at the last minute will help retain the crispness, but honestly I don’t mind them in their “less than crispy state” the following days while eating the left-overs. I don’t really have a rule of thumb for which nuts to use either, though I will say that I think toasted pecans, walnuts or pistachios work really well in this type of salad. That’s it. So easy, so get yourself some cauliflower and get creative! To get you started, following is my cauliflower creation this week - Cauliflower Waldorf Salad.
Shaved Cauliflower Waldorf Salad
Here are the Main Ingredients for this yummy healthy salad:
- 1/2 head of fresh raw Cauliflower
- 2 stalks of Celery, chopped into about 1/4 inch chunks
- 2 medium size Apples, chopped into bite size pieces
- 1 large handful of Kale
- 1/2 cup Raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped Walnuts (I prefer to toast these, but this is optional.)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Mustard (preferably Dijon)
2 Tablespoon freshly squeezed Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Honey
Dash of Sea Salt
Slice the kale into 1/4 inch thick slices. Sprinkle these with a dash of salt and then begin to squeeze or gently massage it. This will help break down the fibers and reduce the bitterness of the greens. You will notice that it will begin to turn a darker green color and reduce in size by about 1/3 to 1/2 of what it was originally. Combine the massaged kale with the cauliflower, celery, apples and raisins and set aside. Then whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the vegetables and fruit, tossing together until everything is well coated. Just before serving, sprinkle the nuts on top of the salad. You could pair this with a cup of soup for lunch or a side of some type of protein. It is also quite filing and satisfying all on its own. Bon Appetite!
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