Oh look, another low carb recipe featuring cauliflower… you’re shocked, I know – and if you aren’t a fan of cauliflower, you are probably sick of seeing it here. I just can’t help myself though. It’s becoming an addiction of sorts – and a deliciously healthy one at that!
In case you need more reasons to try it, here are a few facts about cauliflower.
a) Cauliflower is loaded with anti-oxidants & phyto-nutrients making it a proven cancer fighter.
b) Cauliflower is a powerful detoxifier and stimulates natural detox enzyme production.
c) Cauliflower can super charge your immune system – it’s both anti-viral & anti-bacterial.
d) Cauliflower is chock full of Potassium, Calcium, B-vitamins and Vitamin C – among other things.
So if you needed even MORE reasons to love cauliflower, there ya go! It should be noted though, that if you have a history of gout, excessive consumption of cauliflower which contains purines, can aggravate your condition. Also, raw cauliflower is a goitrogen, and in excessive quantities is thought to inhibit thyroid function in people with existing thyroid disease, so be aware of that as well. Otherwise you can, and should, eat cauliflower with reckless and wild abandon – because it’s both delicious and good for you!
Now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about this fantastic salad! After subbing in the lightly cooked cauliflower for the orzo in the beautiful and delicious “Anti” Pasta Salad, I decided to try the same thing in another of my favorite orzo-based salads.
This one is derived from an orzo salad that I once saw on the Barefoot Contessa years ago. After roasting shrimp in the oven, she added it to cooked orzo along with with cucumbers, lemon and dill (and probably some other stuff I can’t remember!)
I loved this salad and must have made it at least 20 times that summer, but then I moved on and it’s been years since I’ve had it. I wasn’t sure if the lemon and dill would complement the cauliflower or not, but it was worth a try, and I’m really glad I did!
Even my husband, a sworn hater of all things cauliflower, ate some and pronounced it “not disgusting.” This is a major win in our house people! I rank it much higher than “not disgusting,” in fact I might even like this one more than the Mediterranean based Anti Pasta Salad – it’s a tough call though, one might even say a “toss up!” (Get it? See what I did there? Bad salad pun totally intended!)
Wanna make this even easier? Buy pre-cooked shrimp instead of raw and just slice it up and throw it in. I sometimes find the pre-cooked shrimp to be limp and soggy – to rehabilitate it, throw it into boiling water for about a minute, then into an ice water bath with the juice of one lemon squeezed in and let it sit until cool. They firm up nicely and nobody will guess that you “cheated” and used pre-cooked. It’ll be our little secret…
Makes about 6 cups
1 head of cauliflower
1 lb medium raw shrimp
1 Tbl olive oil
3 Tbl fresh dill, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 Tbl grated lemon zest
Salt & Pepper to taste
Peel & clean your shrimp, removing the tails also. Place the shrimp on a cookie sheet and drizzle with 1 Tbl of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 8 – 10 minutes or until opaque. Don’t over cook them or they will be rubbery.
Meanwhile, cut all of the florets off of the cauliflower – discarding the tough bottom stalk. Chop the cauliflower into small pieces. Add the cauliflower (and nothing else) to a microwave safe, shallow bowl or pan, and microwave for about 5 minutes. You want it to be softened but not mushy – you might have to do it in two batches to make sure it cooks evenly. While your shrimp and cauliflower are cooling, peel, seed and chop your cucumbers into about 1/2 inch pieces.
When your shrimp are cool enough to handle, slice into halves or thirds lengthwise to make it pretty, or just chop them roughly if you want to save time. Combine your shrimp, cauliflower, and cucumber in a medium bowl. Then add your lemon zest and chopped dill. Pour in your olive oil and lemon juice and toss to coat. Taste and then season with salt and pepper as desired.
This salad is relatively easy to make, it keeps well, and even gets better with a day or two in the fridge. It’s also hearty enough to eat as a complete lunch, so it’s perfect if you’re packing it for work or just a busy day on the go.