Traditional flavor and savor without all the calories
Memorial Day is coming up soon here in the US. And that means the start of picnic and cookout season. Potato salad is a staple at these events. It’s easy to make, you can prepare it ahead of time, and most everyone loves it.
At least until they step on the scale the following morning. Because potatoes pack some calories.
So why not replace those potatoes with cauliflower? When steamed or blanched, cauliflower’s texture mimics that of boiled potatoes. Plus it combines well with onions, mayo, and the other ingredients in traditional potato salad. And cauliflower contains only about a third the calories of potatoes.
Best of all, cauliflower “potato” salad tastes really good. Who says there’s no (calorie) free lunch?
Recipe: Cauliflower Potato-Style Salad
To make this salad, you essentially follow the recipe for a classic American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad, but substitute cauliflower for spuds.
Prep time for this dish is about half an hour. You can serve it immediately, or chill it in the fridge for a couple hours (or even overnight) before serving it.
One head of cauliflower makes a salad that will serve 6 to 8 as a side dish. It’s easy to double the recipe if you wish.
Leftovers keep for several days if refrigerated in an airtight container.
- 1 large head of cauliflower (~2 pounds when trimmed)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt for the cauliflower cooking water (about half that if using regular table salt; see Notes)
- ½ red onion (or to taste; can substitute white or yellow onion)
- 2 ribs celery (or to taste)
- 2 to 3 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (to taste; see Notes for substitutions)
- 2 tablespoons cider vinegar (or to taste; may substitute wine vinegar)
- additional kosher salt to taste (maybe a teaspoon; see Notes)
- freshly ground black pepper to taste (maybe 8 to 10 grinds)
- paprika to taste (maybe ½ teaspoon; optional)
- 3 to 4 Hard-Boiled Eggs, diced
- 3 to 4 tablespoons fresh parsley and/or dill, minced (see Notes for substitution ideas)
- ~¾ cup mayo, preferably Homemade (or to taste; may substitute low-fat mayo)
- 1 to 2 teaspoons yellow mustard (optional; may substitute Dijon)
- garnish of parsley, dill, or hard-boiled egg slices
- Place a large pan of water (at least 4 quarts) on the stovetop to boil.
- Wash the cauliflower, remove any leaves, and cut it in half through the poles. Remove the woody core. Cut the cauliflower into small florets.
- When the water is boiling, add salt to season it. Add the cauliflower and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook until the cauliflower is tender (although we like just a bit of crunch); 6 to 8 minutes. (If you prefer to steam the cauliflower, see Notes.)
- Meanwhile, peel the onion and dice it finely. Place the diced onion in a large mixing bowl.
- Wash the celery and, using a vegetable peeler, remove the outer strings. Cut the celery into fine dice, then add it to the mixing bowl.
- Measure out the pickle relish and add it to the mixing bowl.
- By this time, the cauliflower probably will be done. Pour the cooked cauliflower into a colander and rinse it quickly with cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain the cauliflower, then add it to the mixing bowl. Add the cider vinegar, salt, black pepper, and paprika (if using). Toss all the ingredients, adding more vinegar if the initial amount has been absorbed (see Notes). Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes so the flavors can mingle.
- Meanwhile, peel and dice the hard-boiled eggs. Mince the parsley and/or dill.
- After the cauliflower mixture has rested for at least 10 minutes, add the diced hard-boiled eggs, the parsley or dill, the mayonnaise, and the mustard (if using). Toss the ingredients together, then taste. Adjust the seasoning if necessary, and add more mayonnaise if you prefer. Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and refrigerate to chill. When serving, we like to add a garnish of parsley, dill, and/or hard-boiled egg slices.
- Homemade mayo tastes wonderful in this dish, but you can substitute store bought (and we often do). We favor the Hellman’s brand (sold as the Best brand in the western US), but use whatever brand you like. Many people like to use Miracle Whip.
- Reduced-fat mayo works well in this dish, too.
- You can also replace half the mayo with yogurt. Or sour cream.
- If you like a lot of mayo in your “potato” salad, by all means add more.
- We like the tang (and hint of sweetness) that sweet pickle relish adds to this dish. But you could substitute diced dill pickles if you prefer. If you go that route, we suggest adding a teaspoon or so of pickle juice to the mixture.
- We particularly like this salad when made with fresh parsley or dill, but other fresh green herbs would work well too. Chives, for example. Or tarragon. If it sounds good to you, it probably is.
- If you’d like a bit more color in this dish, try adding some diced canned pimentos. Or diced fresh red bell pepper.
- Crisply cooked bacon makes another nice addition.
- Cider vinegar adds great flavor to cauliflower. Feel free to add more than we suggest.
- You can also substitute wine vinegar (red or white) for cider vinegar if you prefer.
- If you decide to use mustard in this dish, we recommend the yellow (ballpark) variety. But Dijon would work well too.
- We use kosher salt in our kitchen (sea salt at table). Kosher salt has bigger flakes than table salt, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly.” Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt, use only half as much as we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
- Cauliflower, like other cruciferous vegetables, is a nutritional powerhouse. It contains loads of vitamins, has antioxidant properties, and contributes anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s also much lower in calories than potatoes, so (despite the mayonnaise) this dish is much lighter than a traditional potato salad.
- Our instructions for this recipe direct you to blanch the cauliflower, but you can steam it if you prefer: Prepare the cauliflower as instructed in Step 2, then place it in a steam basket over boiling water, and steam until done.
“Fun dish!” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “This tastes so much like potato salad.”
“Tons of flavor,” I agreed. “But much lighter.”
“A good thing in one of our cases,” said Mrs K R, glancing at my midriff. “No one ever accused you of not pulling your weight.”
“You’re never at a loss for words,” I said. “And they’re always weighty.”
“I do try to weigh my words carefully,” said Mrs K R.
“Yup, you’re pretty good at punching above your weight,” I said.
“Guess we should call a truce here,” said Mrs K R. “Don’t want to throw my weight around.”
At least she’s not calling me a lightweight.
You may also enjoy reading about:
American (Mayonnaise) Potato Salad
German Potato Salad with Bacon
French Potato Salad
Mustard Potato Salad
Horseradish Potato Salad
Chipotle Sweet-Potato Salad
Or check out the index for more recipes