This Cauliflower Lemon Basil Salad features crunchy cauliflower and sweet cherry tomatoes tossed with fresh basil, toasted capers and a light lemon vinaigrette. Vegan, paleo and Whole30 compliant.
Crunchy cauliflower! Sweet cherry tomatoes! And lots of lemony goodness make this Cauliflower Lemon Basil Salad recipe a keeper. But best of all are those crispy little toasted capers and tiny bits of fresh basil sprinkled on top. They give this salad a sunny Mediterranean vibe that will brighten up any meal at any time of the year!
The other day, someone asked me where I get my inspiration for recipes. While it’s usually seasonal produce that triggers recipe ideas for me, today it was simply the need to use up items in my fridge! I had a fresh head of organic cauliflower, a bag of organic lemons, the rest of a container of multi-coloured cherry tomatoes and fresh basil in the garden.
I remembered a salad recipe from an old Canadian Living cookbook that I hadn’t made for years. It used cauliflower, lemons, tomatoes, olives and oregano, but I decided to adapt it to use what I had on hand. And besides, I was dying to top it with crispy toasted capers that I love.
This Cauliflower Lemon Basil Salad is a great make-ahead recipe!
You can prepare the capers, the cauliflower, the lemons and the dressing ahead of time and add the tomatoes, basil and dressing just before serving. Hurray for make-ahead recipes! And two thumbs up for ones that take less than 20 minutes to make!
While the original recipe recommended pouring boiling water over the cauliflower and lemon and letting it stand for 8 minutes, I reduced this to 3 minutes. While I like cauliflower to be tender, I also like it to be crunchy. Three minutes seemed like just the right amount of time to achieve the right texture. Pour, drain, chill, then add halved cherry tomatoes, chiffonade-cut basil leaves, toasted capers and the dressing just before serving.
When I buy a head of cauliflower, I usually intend to roast it, make cauliflower rice, or make cauliflower soup. This salad makes gives me a different way to enjoy cauliflower and it’s a welcome change from a green salad.
Cauliflower Lemon Basil Salad with Toasted Capers
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2 lemons
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp capers
- 1 sprig fresh basil leaves, chiffonade sliced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp dry mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- salt and pepper
- Drain 2 tablespoons capers, rinse and pat dry. Heat 1/4 inch oil in small skillet. Add capers and fry, stirring occasionally, for 3 - 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.
- Remove leaves and core from cauliflower and cut into bite-sized florets.
- Slice one of the lemons thinly, remove seeds.
- Add cauliflower florets and lemon slices to a large bowl. Pour boiling water over top to cover. Let stand for 3 minutes. Drain and transfer to serving bowl. Refrigerate while you prepare the dressing and remaining ingredients.
- Just before serving, add halved cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and toasted capers. Toss with dressing (you may not need it all, depending on your tastes), garnish with a few fresh basil leaves and serve.
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