I’m gonna jam two recipes into one blog post, so let’s not waste any time! Background: We recently had a little family get-together, and when I asked what I could contribute, my aunt called me a “veggie guru,” and suggested I bring veggies. Count me in, I love that plan! My sister-in-law Alexis and I made two salads to contribute, and here’s the first one:
Cauliflower Quinoa Salad!
Grain-based salads are a tasty, popular option, and the grain (like quinoa, barley, or farro, for example) helps make them substantial and filling. But if you’re watching your calories, these salads could be too much of a good thing, and hearty portions could end up being much more caloric that you’d expect.
My solution is a healthy swap – replace some of the grain with riced cauliflower. The quinoa/cauliflower base cuts down on the calories, but still leaves you satisfied and full. And this is a great kitchen-sink salad, too – you can add whatever veggies you have in your fridge or need to use up!
Here’s how we made this one:
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa, that I cooked according to the package.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into rice-sized pieces. I used a food processor, but you can buy riced cauliflower, too, fresh or frozen. You’ll need 3-4 cups. Cook the cauliflower rice by either sauteing it, or nuking it in the microwave for 5-7 minutes, until tender.
Cook the quinoa and the cauliflower ahead of time, so they have time to cool before you add the other ingredients – this is a room-temperature or chilled salad.
- 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 red onion, cut into thin strips
- 4 or 5 handfuls spinach leaves, cut into super thin ribbons (what the French call a ‘julienne’ cut)
- 1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) – sunflower kernels would work too.
- 1 bunch parsley, minced
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
- 3-4 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
Throw it all in a bowl and serve it up! There were a couple people at the get-together that don’t like cauliflower, so we just said it was all quinoa, and they ate it up anyway, none the wiser. Sneaky!
Ready for salad number two? It’s…
Watermelon and Mint Salad!
If the thought of mixing watermelon with a couple vegetables sounds weird, well… it is. But trust me, it’s worth it! Wait, hold on, is that feta cheese? It is!
How to make it:
- 1 entire mini watermelon, cut into cubes. We did this the night before, and I put the melon in a colander, then put the colander in a larger bowl and popped it in the fridge overnight. This drained some of the excess juice, so the salad didn’t get so sloppy.
- 2 cucumbers, cut into chunks.
- 1 bunch scallions, cut into thin slices, just the white and light green parts.
- 1 package mint, cut into thin ribbons
- 1 cup crumbled Feta cheese
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice of one fresh lime
- 1/3 cup fig vinegar (I saw this at the store and had to try it, but you can leave it out and add more lime juice)
- 1 teaspoon sugar (also optional, to balance out the acid in the lime juice and vinegar)
You can make any basic vinaigrette. This one I sort of made up as I went along. I would just avoid balsamic vinegar for this, because it’s so dark it’ll turn this bright, fresh salad a not-so-exciting shade of brown.
This salad stays crisp and vibrant!
Two salads, one plate (with a few of my aunt’s meatballs and a chicken thigh in the background):
The salads were a big hit – we got lots of compliments on both. And call me crazy but I always love bringing a healthy option or two to a party.
And if you’re feeling a little deja-vu, it’s for a good reason. I’ve featured versions of both these salads on this blog before. But I love to switch things up and tweak recipes, so these are different. Still – check out my other versions: Riced Caulifower and Veggie Salad and Grilled Watermelon Salad. Plus, if you’re looking for fun things to do with watermelon, check out my watermelon shark! And then all my other recipes, since you’re in a clicky mood.
Finally – become known as the Veggie Guru in your family. It’s a nickname you can always wear with pride!
Keep it up, David!
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