There are many vegetables that most people never think to prepare raw. Beets, asparagus, chard, kale / collards, string beans, and cauliflower. But I find, these veggies do better with a dressing that kind of acts like a "marinade" to soften them because of their fibrous nature.....in other words, lots of acid (vinegar, lemon, etc.). Another benefit to using these fibrous veggies is that they'll stand up a few days in the fridge, only getting better in most cases as they sit and soak up the dressings.
One good technique for raw veggie salads is to slice or shred them very thin, and in this salad I used a Japanese mandoline to shred my cauliflower. I also did not want to make this salad "sweet" in any kind of "fruity" or "sugary" way, so for some sweetness, to contrast the vinegar in the dressing, I chose tomatoes and sweet corn....I didn't think sweet fruit, or a dressing with sugar or honey would taste good with raw cauliflower! I also didn't want anything "onion-ey". You have to get familiar with what different veggies taste like, and look like, if you want to start making up your own salads. For this salad I thought about the color contrast of the cauliflower with black beans, red tomatoes, yellow corn and green parsley. Another way to start is by reading recipes to see how others have combined flavors and tastes together.
Raw Cauliflower Salad w/sweet corn, tomatoes and black beans
1 head cauliflower, shredded
2 ears of sweet yellow corn
1 basket cherry toamaotes
1-2 c. cooked black beans
italian parsley, finely chopped
2-4 tbl. extra virgin oilive oil
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
juice of 1/2 lemon or lime
season highly with salt and pepper
Toss all of the salad ingredients. No need to make the dressing in a seprate bowl, just pour right on top of salad and.....here's the important part.....taste it to see what needs adjusting.....my measurements are approximate! Is it seasoned enough with salt? Does it need more acid? (more lemon, more lime)
I used an orange cauliflower in the bottom picture because that's what I found at the market and, of course, I cooked my own black beans in the pressure cooker, but you can used canned...just remember to rinse them off......I also cooked my corn in salted boiling water for about 3 minutes and then sliced the kernals off of the cob. If you want to make your own "wraps" I think this would be great in a warm flour tortilla with a little Queso Fresca cheese.....and of course feel free to add any kind of animal protein, like chicken, turkey, bacon, or beef.....or how about some grilled salmon?
Raw cauliflower also makes an awesome "pantry salad", but I'll wait until winter, in the mean time it's fresh, fresh, fresh for me!
Cauliflower Antipasta Salad
black kalmata olives
sun dried tomatoes
cooked dried pasta, like "bow tie"
red wine vinegar
a little lemon
a little juice from the pepprocini
a pinch of red pepper flakes
salt and pepper