This raw cauliflower recipe has it all going on….crunchy, salty, chewy, sweet….tasty, nutritious, and easy to make. You’ll take this healthy cauliflower salad to every BBQ, Potluck, Picnic…and make it for meal prep every single week. It’s that good!
This post has been updated from the original that was posted April 7, 2021.
Oh, it’s been a hot minute since I was OBSESSED with a salad. I’ve been crushing hard on this raw cauliflower salad. Why? Charisma baby….yeah, I just described a salad with a personality word! LOL.
Food has the power to make us feel good….both while we are eating it, and afterwards too. Kinda like being with a friend that is alluring and confident….but still makes you feel good about yourself too. This cauliflower salad has that “it” factor that makes me keep coming back for more…plus no food coma….yeah, the feel good lasts and lasts.
It’s no secret that I adore cauliflower. It’s nutritious and totally adaptable. I roast it for a low carb cauliflower hummus, cauliflower steaks or whole roasted cauliflower. It is perfect to substitute for grains as a simple cauliflower rice, grain-free tabbouleh, or low-carb onion rolls.
I also use cauliflower as a substitute for potatoes! You’ll love my cauliflower kugel...it’s low in carbs and still has the nostalgic potato kugel taste and texture.
I’ll never give up on my favorite cauliflower recipes, but I’m going to take a moment….or 2…with this Raw Cauliflower Salad Recipe …the feel good factor is addictive!
Why this is the BEST cauliflower salad
- Super easy to make….I bet you can do it in 10 minutes.
- It’s crunchy….and stays that way even after it’s been dressed.
- Perfect for meal prep….it’s a great make ahead salad.
- That lime….so tangy in all the right ways.
- Versatile….you can substitute what you have for the supporting veggies.
- High in fiber….will help to keep you regular and your gut flora diverse.
- Delish and satisfying….unreal for a vegan salad.
- Fresh. Super fresh tasting.
- Ingredients are easy to find and available year round.
- A healthy salad…with no compromise….you’ll want to eat it because it’s so good.
- EVERYONE can enjoy it. Compliant for Whole30, Paleo, Vegan, Gluten and Grain-free.
How to buy and store cauliflower
- Look for fresh cauliflower in your local farmers market or at the grocery store.
- Look for cauliflower with densely packed florets without blemishes, wet spots or browning.
- Give the leaves a look. They should be fresh and bright. If they’re already wilting, it’s a sign the cauliflower isn’t fresh.
- A head of cauliflower is dense, and should feel heavy for its size.
- Cauliflower comes in different shades of creamy white, yellow and purple.
- It can be stored in the fridge in an unsealed plastic bag for a couple of weeks.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Cauliflower: I used orange cauliflower in these photos. Orange and purple cauliflower are higher in antioxidants than the regular white cauliflower. However, if you need to save prep time, buy already riced cauliflower in white. Seriously though, it took me about 3 minutes to cut by hand. No cauliflower? Substitute broccoli….just be sure it’s VERY firm.
- Cabbage: If you use purple cauliflower, then choose green cabbage. This ingredient is part of the crunch, so if you don’t use cabbage, pick another crunchy veggie like carrots…which also come in purple..YAY.
- Green peas: Frozen is the way to go here. They’re flash frozen when the peas are at their peak ripeness, so they don’t lose any of their nutrition. If you’re looking for a substitution, go with shelled edamame beans or chickpeas. Oh, but don’t forget the half bag you have in your freezer that you bought to make pasta salad.
- Celery: Adds to the crunch…so choose your sub accordingly. Bok Choy works well. I also like raw fennel here.
- Scallions: Sometimes you can find purple spring onions…so much fun! If they’re much thicker than scallions, chop after the thin slice. Thinly sliced shallots or purple onions would also work. You could even substitute fresh chives.
- Fresh parsley: Fresh herbs really add to the flavor of this salad. Good subs would be cilantro, dill, basil, oregano….or any combo.
- Pistachios: You can use any chopped nut in this recipe. Almonds, walnuts, pecans or hazelnuts would all be delish. If you can’t have nuts, use pepitas or sunflower seeds. Hemp seeds will also add some protein and healthy fats, but won’t provide the same crunch.
- Dates: I absolutely LOVE the sweetness and chewy texture the dates add. Buy medjool dates with the pits still in and remove them yourself. They will be much more chewy…already pitted dates are often dry. Consider raisins, golden raisins, unsweetened cranberries or another unsulfered and unsweetened dried fruit.
- Lime Vinaigrette: Oh…this is the crown jewel….with just the right tang. No lime? Substitute lemon or orange.
How to make it
First you’ll need to prep the cauliflower. I used a sharp knife and cut it into super thin slices that mostly fell apart and also left a few very small and thin florets. You could also use the shredding disc of a food processor or the side of a box grater.
Put the cauliflower into a large bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. While you get the remaining ingredients ready, the salt will begin to soften the cauliflower making it very palatable to eat, even raw.
The dressing is super easy to make with simple ingredients. Over a small bowl with olive oil, use a microplane grater for both the lime zest and the garlic. If your lime isn’t very juicy, you may need 2 to equal ¼ cup. Thinly slice the shallot. Either whisk all ingredients together or use a small jar with a lid to vigorously shake until well mixed. The shallot will mellow and develop a tangy sweetness from the lime juice while you’re making the rest of the salad.
Ok. You’re just about done! Load up all the ingredients into the bowl where the cauliflower was marinating in the salt and pepper. Pour on the dressing and toss until well mixed. You’re going to want a little bit of everything in every single bite.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Make at least a couple hours in advance so the flavors can intensify and the cauliflower can soften.
- If you’re making in advance, add the nuts just before serving.
- Prep all ingredients a few days in advance and store in the fridge.
- Roll the lime around on the counter with a firm touch to get the juice ready to squeeze. If your lime isn’t too juicy, you’ll want to use 2!
- Add some white pepper or a pinch of cayenne to the dressing if you like some heat.
- Need to save time? There’s no shame in pulling out a bag of frozen cauli-rice.
- Make this your signature dish to bring to every pot-luck, BBQ, picnic, or party.
Meal prep and storage
- Serve: Cold or at room temperature. Serve as a side salad or a main dish.
- Prep ahead: This cauliflower salad gets better as it sits. Prep components ahead or entire salad can be made and stored in the fridge until ready to serve.
- Store: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
- Freeze: Although you can substitute frozen cauliflower rice for whole cut up cauliflower in this recipe, the completed salad doesn’t freeze well.
More Vegan Meal Prep Recipes
Cauliflower Salad FAQs
Absolutely! Raw cauliflower keep most of the antioxidants and nutrients too. Cutting it into small pieces will make it easier to digest.
Some people have a hard time digesting raw cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, and wind up with bloating and gas. If this happens to you, give your body time to adjust to raw foods by eating small amounts at first.
Yes. It’s high in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. It’s also nutrient dense…meaning low in calories while high in nutrition. It’s good for memory, strong bones and can help relieve constipation.
Raw Cauliflower Salad
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 cups chopped purple cabbage
- 1 bunch scallions white and green parts sliced thin
- 2 large stalks celery diced
- ⅓ cup chopped pistachios
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley*
- 1 ½ cups frozen green peas*
- 3 medjool dates pits removed and diced
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 lime zested and juiced*
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 small shallot thinly sliced
- Prep the cauliflower. Use a sharp knife to cut cauliflower in half. Trim off leaves and wash well. Pat dry and then "shave" cauliflower by making super thin slices. You can also use the shredding disc of your food processor for this task. Place shaved cauliflower in a large bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
- Make the dressing: Add olive oil to small bowl. Thinly slice shallot and chop any large pieces, then add to the bowl. Use a microplane grater to zest the lime over the bowl and then juice of the lime over the bowl. Zest the garlic clove into the bowl. Use a whisk to mix well. Alternately, place all ingredients in glass jar with tight fitting lid and shake vigorously. Set dressing aside so shallots will soften while you get the rest of the salad ready.
- To the bowl with the cauliflower, add roughly chopped cabbage, sliced scallions, diced celery, chopped pistachios, chopped fresh parsley, peas and diced dates.
- Toss salad together, add dressing and mix well. Serve at room temperature or refrigerate and serve cold.