Low-Carb UnPotato Salad with Cauliflower Recipe by Dana Carpender

Low-Carb UnPotato Salad with Cauliflower Recipe by Dana Carpender

Where does the time go? It’s almost Memorial Day weekend! You know what that means: Barbecues! Cookouts! Potlucks!

The main courses will be fine for us, of course. There’ll be burgers and chicken, ribs and steak, maybe even a salmon on the grill. But what to serve on the side? What to take to that potluck that will impress your friends or family, and won’t blow your diet?

Cauliflower is the low carb dieter’s best friend

Cauliflower! Cauliflower is the low carber’s best friend. (Well, after meat and eggs.) Why? Because it stands in for so many other things and does the job so well. Most low carbers know about fauxtatoes – pureed cauliflower served in place of mashed potatoes. But that’s only the beginning of cauliflower’s many charms.

Consider potato salad, long a staple of cookouts and potlucks. I have tried many potato salad recipes, simply swapping out cauliflower for the potatoes, and you know what? Every single one has worked out. Every. Single. One. Just trim the leaves and the bottom of the stem off your cauliflower, then whack it into half-inch chunks. Throw them in a microwave steamer (useful item!) or a microwaveable casserole with a lid. (If you don’t have a lid, a plate makes a good lid for any round casserole.) Add a tablespoon or two of water, cover, and nuke it on high till the cauliflower is tender, but not mushy – about 12 minutes is right for a half-head of cauliflower in my microwave, but microwaves vary a bit. When the microwave beeps, uncover the cauliflower right away to let the steam out, or it will keep on cooking. Drain and let it cool, then use in any potato salad recipe you happen to like. We call this UnPotato Salad.

What are the carb savings from this little swap? Oh, boy. One pound of potatoes has 359 calories, 89% of ’em from carbs. That’s 82 grams of carbohydrate, with 7 grams of fiber, or 75 grams of usable carb – and most potato salad recipes call for a few pounds of potatoes. One pound of cauliflower, by contrast, has 114 calories. 68% of those calories come from carbohydrate, it’s true, but the calorie count is so much lower, the carb content is slashed to 24 grams, and 11 of them are fiber. That’s 13 grams usable carb per pound, for a carb savings of 62 grams per pound of vegetable used. And guess which one has more vitamins?

But that’s just the start! Run your raw cauliflower through the shredding blade of your food processor, and put it in that same steamer or casserole. Add the couple of tablespoons of water, cover, and this time nuke for just 6-7 minutes. Again, uncover right away, drain, and let it cool. You now have cauli-rice. This is great in rice-based salads, of which I have tried a few. But it also works very well as a substitute for bulgur wheat in tabbouleh, as well as for cous-cous in salads that call for it. I’ve also used it in salad recipes that called for orzo, the rice-shaped pasta.

Low-Carb UnPotato Salad with Cauliflower Recipe by Dana Carpender

What Are The Carb Savings?

We usually measure rice by the cup, so we’ll go that way. 2 cups of cooked rice – heck, let’s make it “nutritious” whole grain brown rice – have 437 calories, 85% of which come from carb, for a total carb count of 92 grams, with 7 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 85 grams. Again, you’re likely to use more than 2 cups of rice in a salad, especially if you’re taking it to a gathering.

2 cups of cooked bulgur have 302 calories, with 68 grams of carb and 13 grams of fiber, so 55 grams usable carb. Note that since bulgur is a form of wheat, using cauli-rice instead will not only dramatically drop both the carb and calorie count of the finished dish, it will also remove the gluten (so long as you make sure the other ingredients are gluten-free.) This can be useful in these gluten-conscious days.

2 cups of cooked orzo have 424 calories, with 85 grams of carb, and a mere 4 grams of fiber, for a usable carb count of 81 grams.

How do all of these compare to cauli-rice? My nutrition program doesn’t have a figure for cauli-rice – I need to make some, weigh it, and add it to the database, come to think of it – so we’ll have to go with a figure for cauliflowerets. Since they’re not going to pack down in a cup the way grains do, we’ll go with the figure for 3 cups of cauliflowerets: 74 calories, with 15 grams of carb, 7 of which are fiber. That’s a huge, vast savings, in carbs and calories both.

How do people react? Remarkably well, thank you. I’ve taken various cauliflower based salads to potlucks and pitch-ins, and they’re always devoured. More than once, a friend has eaten three or four forkfuls before saying, “That’s not potatoes. What is it?” My cauli-rice salad with bacon, tomatoes, and scallions was roundly praised. (This started as a rice salad recipe. First time I made it, I liked it so much I ate it all the first day, and made it again the next day. And before you ask, that’s just about all the ingredients, except mayo. From there, you should be able to figure it out.)

Truly, you can adapt nearly any starchy salad this way. Just try!

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Low-Carb UnPotato Salad with Cauliflower Recipe by Dana Carpender

Low-Carb UnPotato Salad with Cauliflower Recipe by Dana Carpender

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Low-Carb UnPotato Salad Recipe

This is the first Unpotato Salad recipe I ever tried. It’s classic. You are going to be so surprised! This is amazingly like potato salad.

This whole immense batch comes to 30.5 grams of usable carb, and it’s at least 12 servings. Each has 3 grams of carbohydrate, with 1 gram of fiber, for a usable carb count of 2 grams. 3 grams of protein.

  • Author: Dana Carpender
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 12 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 good, big cauliflower, cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups diced celery
  • 1 cup diced red onion
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, chopped
  • 2 cups mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons salt or Vege-Sal
  • 2 teaspoons Splenda
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Put the cauliflower in microwaveable casserole, add just a tablespoon or so of water, and cover. Nuke it on “high” for seven minutes, and let it sit, covered, for another three to five minutes or so. You want your cauliflower tender, but not mushy. (You may steam your cauliflower instead, if you prefer.)
  2. Use the time that the cauliflower is cooking to dice your celery and onions!
  3. Drain the cooked cauliflower, and combine with the celery and onions – you’ll need a big bowl.
  4. Combine the mayonnaise, vinegar, salt, Splenda, and pepper, pour over the vegetables, and mix well.
  5. Mix in the chopped eggs last, and only stir lightly; this preserves some small hunks of yolk.
  6. Chill and serve.

Notes

Historically, I have used commercial mayonnaise in this. Recently I’ve been getting away from commercial mayo because of the cheap soy oil in the stuff, and have made my own, which is super-easy if you have a blender or food processor. However, despite its reputation, commercial mayonnaise is far less likely than homemade to spoil while sitting out on the picnic table. If you’re taking the salad to a potluck or barbecue, or other venue where food will sit out for a while, I’d probably use the commercial stuff.

(Reprinted by permission from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, 2002 Fair Winds Press)

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/12 recipe
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 3g (2g Net Carbs)
  • Fiber: 1g
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Products Mentioned In This Article

Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, 16 oz (1 Pack) Spike Vege-Sal Magic Gaylord Hauser 20 oz Salt

SPLENDA No Calorie Sweetener Granulated Sugar Substitute, 25.22 Ounce Resealable Bag

500 Low-Carb Recipes: 500 Recipes, from Snacks to Dessert, That the Whole Family Will Love

 

(Reprinted by permission from 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender, 2002 Fair Winds Press)

NOTE: Historically, I have used commercial mayonnaise in this. Recently I’ve been getting away from commercial mayo because of the cheap soy oil in the stuff, and have made my own, which is super-easy if you have a blender or food processor. However, despite its reputation, commercial mayonnaise is far less likely than homemade to spoil while sitting out on the picnic table. If you’re taking the salad to a potluck or barbecue, or other venue where food will sit out for a while, I’d probably use the commercial stuff.

More Low-Carb Potato Substitute recipes.

© 2011 by Dana Carpender. Used by permission of the author. What do you think? Please send Dana your comments to Dana Carpender.

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