Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad ~ healthy cauliflower turns a grain salad into a gluten free glow bowl full of fresh vibrant flavors ~ if you love easy cauliflower rice recipes you’ll want to try this one, it’s gluten free, low carb, and so yummy.
I had this salad when I was in Florida over Thanksgiving weekend and fell in love with it. The riced cauliflower is so similar to grains of couscous you’d hardly know the difference, except that this salad is vibrant, gluten free, and full of fresh crunch. I have nothing against regular couscous recipes, I’ve made lots on this blog, but this grain free version is a delicious alternative, whether or not you’re on a gluten free diet.
What is cauliflower rice?
- Cauliflower rice is simply cauliflower that has been pulsed in a food processor to break it down.
- After a few pulses, cauliflower florets break down into a grainy texture that resembles rice or couscous.
- Cauliflower rice is used as a nutritious, gluten free alternative to grains in all kinds of dishes like salads, stir frys, etc.
- It’s often served cooked, but I love to use it raw in salads. The flavor is so mild that it can take on many different ‘personalities’.
- You can rice all varieties of cauliflower, including orange, green, or purple.
The fresh veggies get a boost of flavor from the briny olives and marinated peppers and tomatoes. The bit of feta and toasted pine nuts give it a little richness, and it’s all tied together with a light lemon basil dressing.
Ingredients for cauliflower couscous salad
- a head of cauliflower
- cherry tomatoes, the smaller the better
- Greek kalamata olives, make sure they’re pitted
- green stuffed olives
- cucumber, I use the small Persian or pickling types
- feta cheese (leave out for vegan)
- marinated roasted red peppers
- marinated sun dried tomatoes
- red onion
- toasted pine nuts (toasting is essential, it brings out incredible flavor)
- fresh mint
How do you make cauliflower rice?
Break apart a head of cauliflower into smaller florets. Trim the excess stems and discard. (The upper parts of the stems are fine to leave on)
Put the florets into a food processor and pulse until the florets break down. You can run the machine for a few seconds, and then open up and check. Cauliflower is a soft vegetable so this happens quickly. If the grains aren’t a consistent size, like couscous, scrape down the sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times. That’s it, you’ve made cauliflower rice!
If your cauliflower rice seems very wet, let it drain on paper towels to remove excess moisture.
This salad serves as lunch, or a fresh side dish for dinner, and I think it’s really season-less. A great way to get some fresh veggies into your diet all year round.
What to serve with cauliflower couscous salad
It can be a light lunch all on its own.
I love it as a side for grilled chicken and fish.
It can stand in any time you’d serve a green salad or coleslaw.
Mediterranean Cauliflower Couscous Salad
- a food processor
- 1 small to medium head of cauliflower
- 1 small Persian or pickling cucumber, cut in small dice (no need to peel)
- 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, chopped
- 1/4 cup stuffed green olives, halved or chopped
- 1/4 cup minced red onion
- 1/4 cup small cherry tomatoes, chopped or halved
- 1/4 cup chopped marinated sun dried tomatoes
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese (omit for vegan)
- 1/4 cup chopped marinated roasted red peppers
- 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint (substitute fresh basil)
- 1 pinch red pepper flakes
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
lemon basil dressing
- 1/4 cup basil oil (If you don't have basil oil you can add very finely minced fresh basil to olive oil)
- 3-4 Tbsp Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.
- Rinse and remove the stalk and leaves from the head of cauliflower. Break apart the cauliflower into rough chunks. Add to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower breaks down into a grainy texture. This won't take long, less than 30 seconds is usually sufficient. Be sure to pulse the machine, don't run it continuously. Turn the cauliflower into a salad bowl. Note: if the cauliflower seems very wet, you can drain it on paper towels to remove some of the excess moisture.
- Add the rest of the salad ingredients to the bowl. Toss with just enough dressing to moisten the salad, and save any extra for adding later if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve, and give it a toss right before serving.