Greek Cauliflower Pasta Salad


I love a classic pasta salad, but this one has a fun, healthier twist.

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Instead of using boring pasta, it features gently steamed cauliflower–> making this a grain-free and vegetable-packed dish!

I had momentarily considered using spiralized zucchini pasta for this recipe, which would definitely work as well, but the gently steamed cauliflower provides a more authentic texture, with a pretty neutral flavor, similar to traditional pasta. The key for this particular recipe is not overcooking the cauliflower. It needs to be fork-tender, but not mushy! When properly steamed, this cauliflower “pasta” will maintain its firm texture and is sturdy enough to marinate in the fridge for a few days, perfect for a portable packed lunch or dinner.

There’s an added nutritional benefit to steaming you cauliflower, too. Raw cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage, can actually suppress your thyroid’s hormone production, creating fatigue, coldness in your body and a slowing of your metabolism. [source] Gently cooking these types of vegetables will allow you to avoid these negative thyroid symptoms. To maintain all of the essential nutrients found in cauliflower, steaming is the optimal cooking method, so no vitamins or minerals are thrown out with the cooking water. It also creates the perfect texture for this pasta-like dish!

Paired with lemon juice, garlic, olive oil and fresh herbs, this recipe is bursting with flavor and is a fantastic way to pack more vegetables into your day!

Greek Cauliflower Pasta Salad
serves 4

Adapted from this recipe

Ingredients:

1 head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), chopped into bite-sized florets
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, tightly packed
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
6 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
3 springs of fresh oregano, leaves only
6 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (preferably goat’s milk)
1/2 cup pitted olives, sliced (optional)
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Arrange a steam basket in a large pot (4 qt. or larger), and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pot. Place the chopped cauliflower florets in the steam basket, bring the water to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 7 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be fork-tender, but not mushy!

*Note: If you don’t own a steam basket, you can simply place the cauliflower directly in the pot with an inch of water (no need to cover the cauliflower with water completely). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot to allow to “steam” for 7 minutes and drain. Some of the nutrition may be lost through contact with the water, but it’s nothing to worry about!

steamed cauliflower

Remove the steamed cauliflower, drain the cooking water, and return the cauliflower to the large pot. Add the fresh spinach and sliced tomatoes immediately, allowing the heat from the cooked cauliflower to gently wilt the spinach and soften the tomatoes. Next, add in the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh basil and oregano leaves, sliced olives (if using), plus a generous sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Toss well to coat.

Allow the dish to cool before adding the crumbled feta, to avoid melting the cheese. Serve immediately at room temperature, or allow to marinate in the fridge for a later meal.

I personally prefer this dish served at room temperature for best flavor and texture, but it’s delicious directly from the fridge, as well!

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4.8 from 6 reviews
Greek Cauliflower Pasta Salad
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A pasta-like salad that's bursting with classic Greek flavors!
Ingredients
  • 1 head of cauliflower (about 2 lbs.), chopped into bite-sized florets
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, tightly packed
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 6 large basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
  • 3 springs of fresh oregano, leaves only
  • 6 ounces of crumbled feta cheese (preferably goat's milk)
  • ½ cup pitted olives, sliced (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Arrange a steam basket in a large pot (4 qt. or larger), and add about an inch of water to the bottom of the pot. Place the chopped cauliflower florets in the steam basket, bring the water to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer for about 7 minutes. You want the cauliflower to be fork-tender, but not mushy!
  2. Remove the steamed cauliflower, drain the cooking water, and return the cauliflower to the large pot. Add the fresh spinach and sliced tomatoes immediately, allowing the heat from the cooked cauliflower to gently wilt the spinach and soften the tomatoes.
  3. Add in the olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, fresh basil and oregano leaves, sliced olives (if using), plus a generous sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. Toss well to coat.
  4. Allow the dish to cool before adding the crumbled feta, to avoid melting the cheese. Serve immediately at room temperature, or allow to marinate in the fridge for a later meal. I personally prefer this dish served at room temperature for best flavor and texture, but it's delicious directly from the fridge, as well!
Notes
*If you don't own a steam basket, you can simply place the cauliflower directly in the pot with an inch of water (no need to cover the cauliflower with water completely). Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover the pot to allow to "steam" for 7 minutes and drain. Some of the nutrition may be lost through contact with the water, but it's nothing to worry about!

Substitution Notes:

  • If you don’t care for cauliflower, spiralized or chopped zucchini would probably work well in this dish.
  • Grated Parmesan can be used in place of the feta cheese (my husband prefers it this way), or you could skip the cheese all together in favor of some nutritional yeast and an extra seasoning of salt.
  • If you have access to a rosemary-infused olive oil, I highly recommend trying it instead of plain olive oil in this recipe. It takes the flavor over the top!

Enjoy!

Reader Feedback: Any other pasta substitutes you enjoy? Are you a fan of pasta salads?

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Meet Megan Gilmore

Hi, Iโ€™m Megan. A former fast food junkie turned certified nutritionist consultant, trying to make healthy living as easy as possible. I believe in eating delicious whole foods on a regular basis to help naturally support the bodyโ€™s detox organsโ€” no juice fasting required. (Unless you want to!) If you make one of my healthy recipes, tag @detoxinista on Instagram or Facebook so I can see!

27 thoughts on “Greek Cauliflower Pasta Salad

  1. CK

    Mmmmmm….my daughter will LOVE this (crazy about cauliflower). THANK YOU! Question – cauliflower gives my husband and me horrible tummy aches – is there a way to alleviate this? Thank you Megan – we LOVE your website ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  2. Carrie

    Just made this and bringing some for lunch tomorrow. Looks delish! I bought a pack of organic mixed color cauliflower…so vibrant!

    Reply
  3. Angela

    I have just discovered Spaghetti Squash as a pasta sub…my kids even enjoy it. I am for sure going to try this recipe this weekend–looks yummy!

    Reply
  4. Theresa Helligar

    I recently tried hearts of palm cut up to pasta size noodle shape and cooked about 5 min in boiling water as a pasta sub & it is amazing. Has texture similar to real pasta & neutral taste once it’s boiled. Maria of mariahealth.blogspot has some good info and recipes including mac & cheese using hearts of palm. Will have to try your Greek pasta salad with this sub. It sounds delicicios!!

    Reply
  5. TeaJae

    Looks totally delish nice way to use cauliflower instead of the pasta. I noticed you said goats milk feta, I thought all feta was goats milk.

    Reply
    1. Holly

      I used to think that too! If you look at the ingredients though, it will specify whether the milk used is from cow or goat. I personally can’t digest cows milk very well but goats milk is naturally much lower in lactase so some people find it easier to digest. The term “feta” refers to the flavour and texture of the cheese. If it doesn’t bother you don’t worry about it but if you prefer goat feta, read the ingredient list before you buy. Hope that helps!

      Reply
  6. Andria

    I didn’t have fresh herbs so I substituted dry and this was still fantastic. Thanks for another great recipe!!!!

    Reply
  7. Emma

    This looks wonderful! Also, I was just wondering if the bestowed box giveaway was still on-Or did I just miss the results? Thanks!

    Reply
  8. Abbi*tarian

    I look forward to trying this :0)! I plan to try it with kalamata olives & another time topped with toasted almonds :0), though not properly combined. All of the ingredients are delicious, & I’m sure this recipe is versatile enough to transform it into many other versions – delicious experimenting ahead :0D!

    Reply
  9. Meghan

    AMAZING! I tweaked it a bit by adding a bit more lemon juice, a bunch of fresh parsley, roasted red peppers, a few shakes or red pepper flakes, and a can of organic garbanzo beans for added protein. This is fabulous!

    Reply
  10. Cheryl

    I made this last night and it’s delicious! I didn’t have fresh oregano so I added chive blossoms – my new favorite herb. I even put them on my cauliflower crust pizza this weekend. Thanks for the wonderful recipes!

    Reply
  11. Cassidy

    Mmm, just made this for my family’s 4th of July BBQ. I love getting my parents to eat their veg. ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha!

    Reply
  12. Isabella

    Just made this. What a great combination of flavors. I took your suggestion and made rosemary infused olive oil. Love picking the rosemary, basil and oregano from my garden. Thanks again

    Reply
  13. Ashley

    I make this all the time… even those who are VERY skeptical and picky with healthy eating LOVE THIS. Great for your toughest critics! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  14. Pingback: 15 easy and delicious pasta salad recipes for summer

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  16. Bethany

    Megan, I love your site and cookbook! Today, I brought the greek cauliflower pasta salad (a favorite of mine) for a potluck at work, and it won a prize for tastiest healthy dish ๐Ÿ™‚ Now 50 of my co-workers know about detoxinista.com!

    I look forward to continuing to find great recipes and inspiration on your website.

    Reply

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