A light and refreshing cauliflower salad with brown rice and pumpkin seeds, loaded with fresh herbs and lime juice.
This salad first happened by accident. I had leftover brown rice in the fridge and the intention of using it for dinner, somehow, probably in a salad. It was the end of the week and when it came time to make the salad I realised we had no salad greens, no tomatoes, no green beans and horror of horrors, no broccoli (the little girl's favourite vegetable). We had a huge bag of red capsicums, but neither kid will eat them.
But we did have cauliflower. A really big one.
Cauliflower salad was born
I was unconvinced about the girls' willingness to eat raw cauliflower, so I chopped it small and very quickly blanched it before running it under cold water. The blanching just removed that raw taste, but still left the cauliflower firm and fresh tasting. You could skip this step if you like, though we liked it this way.
I threw the blanched cauliflower into a bowl with the rice, then raided the vegetable garden for herbs. Huge handfuls of chopped fresh mint, coriander (cilantro) and spring onion (scallion) greens went in, along with a big squeeze of lime juice and a handful of toasted pumpkin seeds. I also added a touch of ground cumin which helped balance the flavours.
The resulting cauliflower salad was even better than I'd hoped: fresh, light, zingy and somehow cooling. The cauliflower outweighed the rice by about two or three to one, so this is very much a cauliflower salad rather than a rice salad. The pumpkin seeds add something savoury and a welcome crunch.
I was so happy when everyone else loved the cauliflower salad as much as I did, and I knew I was onto a winning combination that was easily repeatable for future family dinners. Happy days.
Serve the cauliflower salad with grilled tofu, vege sausages or portobello mushrooms if you want something hot with it, otherwise it would also be fantastic with hummus and your favourite nice bread for an easy meal.
All the herbs
I used lots of mint and coriander (cilantro) in this salad because that's what I had on hand. Fresh oregano, parsley, basil and other soft green herbs would also work well so use what you have.
I would however suggest sticking with the mint, because that mint and lime combo is so very enjoyable - especially on a hot summer evening.
A special shoutout to the salad bowl
Can I please just draw your attention to the salad bowl in these pictures? I picked this piece of gorgeousness up for peanuts from an op shop, or thrift store to my US friends.
Isn't it beautiful? I was instantly drawn to it, and though I had absolutely no need for yet another salad bowl, I couldn't pass it by.
I'm so glad I could give this bowl a new life where it will be loved and appreciated (and probably photographed a lot, haha!).
What are your favourite op shop finds?
- ½ cup brown rice
- ½ head cauliflower chopped small
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- 5-6 sprigs fresh mint leaves finely chopped (about ½ cup)
- 1 bunch coriander (cilantro) finely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 spring onion (scallion) greens finely sliced
- 2 tbsp lime juice freshly squeezed
- ¼ tsp ground cumin
- Salt and pepper to season
- Cook the brown rice according to package directions, then drain, rinse under cold water and set aside to drain and cool completely.
- While the rice is cooking bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, then drop all of the chopped cauliflower in at once for 30-60 seconds, then drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside to drain and cool completely.
- Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry frypan until golden brown, then remove and cool.
- Combine cooled rice, cauliflower and pumpkin seeds in a mixing bowl. Add the chopped herbs, spring onion, lime juice, ground cumin and seasoning to taste.
- Serve straight away, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Salad is best eaten on the day it's made, while the herbs are fresh.
- Skip blanching the cauliflower if you like it raw.