This cauliflower salad takes the place of your usual potato and pasta salads and has everyone coming back for second and even third helpings. This naturally, low-carb side dish perfectly accompanies anything you might have on the menu. Old Bay seasoning is one of my absolute favorite flavors and really makes this salad a crave-worthy recipe.
Cauliflower Salad Recipe
Old Bay seasoning is a favorite around here. It absolutely changes and elevates the flavor of certain recipes, adding a whole new and often unexpected flavor profile to an unsuspecting dish. Old Bay seasoning is not just to flavor seafood and can be used in so many different ways.
This cauliflower salad is one of the most requested recipes when I’m headed to a barbecue or any type of potluck and need to bring something to share.
What Is Old Bay Seasoning?
Old Bay seasoning was originally used and marketed as a way to flavor crab and shrimp.
The seasoning mix includes:
- mustard powder
- celery salt
- crushed bay leaves
- black pepper
- crushed red pepper flakes
In the United States Old Bay seasoning is found in every grocery store and lots of markets in Canada, but I’m not sure what its availability is in other countries.
I wish I could point you towards a good homemade recipe for Old Bay seasoning, however none that I’ve tried really stand up to the flavorful original.
The spicy version of Old Bay also works well for this recipe.
Why We’re Blanching the Cauliflower
In short, blanching the cauliflower for this recipe is all about creating the perfect texture.
Blanching is a heating and cooling technique that will plunge the cauliflower into boiling water for a short amount of time before it’s transferred to an ice bath, which immediately stops the cooking. (This is also known as parboiling.)
As a result, the cauliflower is softer, but still crunchy and remains this way.
Blanching will also clean the surface of the cauliflower, removing any present dirt or organisms and can also reduce bitterness.
While blanching does help retain the color of many green vegetables, that is not really a thing for this recipe since cauliflower is white.
Why Eat Cauliflower?
Because cauliflower is low in fat, and carbohydrates but high in dietary fiber, folate, water, and vitamin C.
Cauliflower contains several phytochemicals, common in the cabbage family, that may be beneficial to human health.
It has great nutritional density and is something I love to serve in so many ways; roasted, in soup and even on pizza. I’ve even used it as a substitute for shrimp, which might have been going too far.
Nevertheless, cauliflower is a worthy vegetable, kind of blank slate that can be made into so many delicious things.
More Side Dish Salad Inspiration
- Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Broccoli Slaw Salad
- Cold Broccoli Salad with Bacon
- Pineapple Coleslaw
- Greek Pasta Salad
- Fresh Cherry Salad
- Italian Pasta Salad
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Old Bay Cauliflower Salad
- 2 large heads of cauliflower
- 4 large celery stalks, sinely diced
- 2 cups mayonnaise
- 1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp coarsley ground black pepper
- 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
- 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
- salt to taste
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cut heads of cauliflower into 3" pieces. Have a large bowl of ice water ready as well as a paper-towel lined (many layers) baking sheet. Working in batches, blanch the cauliflower in the hot water, each batch for 3-4 minutes. Remove and immediately place in the ice water to stop the cooking process. Let sit in water for a few minutes and remove to the paper-towel lined baking sheet (you will need to continue to add ice to keep water cold for the other batches). Repeat process with the rest of the cauliflower.
- When all cauliflower has been blanched, break into smaller pieces with your hands (stems too) and give a rough chop with a knife. (Here is the most important part, you will want your cauliflower to be completely dry before you mix it with the mayonnaise mixture.) Let cauliflower sit for a while in a single layer on a dry tray. Not doing this will result in a runny and diluted salad.
- Mix together mayonnaise, Old Bay, red pepper flakes and black pepper in a medium-sized bowl (you can do this up to a day ahead).
- Add blanched cauliflower to a large bowl along with celery, peas and red onion. Mix with the mayo-Old Bay mixture and salt to taste. Refrigerate at least four hours before serving or overnight. This salad tastes better the longer it sits!
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