I’m visiting my family in Pennsylvania this week, and happy anticipation of grilling on the deck and splashing in the pool fueled my get-ready, packing frenzy. As long-time readers know, my mom and dad are (in)famous for their mad cooking skillz. One of my favorite summer recipes was my mom’s rice salad. Cool and slippery, it looked like colorful confetti in the bowl: white rice flecked with green peas, chopped scallions, diced tomatoes, and sliced black olives, all dressed with tangy lemon juice and olive oil.
When I should have been finishing Well Fed 2 and packing and house cleaning, I was playing around in the kitchen with cauliflower instead, working to devise a paleo version of that perfect summer salad.
What?! I got to my flight on time.
I feel pretty confident that this revised “rice” salad could hold its own next to my mom’s original in a side-by-side taste test. I replaced the white rice with cauliflower rice, swapped sweet-hot peppadew peppers for the tomatoes, and skipped the peas all together (bad legumes!), plus added a bunch of fresh herbs for good measure. Taste the summer!
NOTE: Peppadew peppers are apparently a “thing”… who knew?! I find mine in the deli section of our regular grocery store and in the olive bar of our fancy grocery. If you can’t find them locally, you can buy them line. More details about the little cuties here.
Herb “Rice” Salad
Prep 15 min | Chill 1 hour | Makes 4 servings
1 head fresh cauliflower
1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 large scallions
1 bunch chives
1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup fresh parsley leaves
6 peppadew peppers
1/3 cup large, pitted black olives
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1. Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice. This takes about 10 to 15 one-second pulses. You may need to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding (which leads to mush).
2. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add the cauliflower rice, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and let it gently cook for about 5 minutes, until just tender. Remove from heat and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer to a medium bowl; add lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well and place in refrigerator to cool while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
3. While the rice is chillin’ in the fridge, get busy on the rest of the veggies. Thinly slice the green and white parts of the scallion. Mince the chives. Coarsely chop the basil and parsley. Cut the peppers into eighths and the olives into quarters. Place everything in a large mixing bowl and toss with two wooden spoons to combine. Add the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, the black pepper, and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Toss again.
4. Remove the cauliflower rice from the fridge and mix with the veggies. Toss to combine, then return to the fridge to allow flavors to meld for about an hour. This hold up very well in the refrigerator and four days after I made my batch, it still tasted great.
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