Originally Posted by Rochester
Anyone have suggestions for healthy low-carb picnic salads?
Has anyone ever made faux-tato salad, substituting cauliflower for potatoes? I found several recipes online...do you have a favorite?
I've taking a salad to the family Fourth of July cookout, and I want to make something I can eat that is yummy enough that everyone else will want to eat it as well. (Life was much easier last year when I just bought 4 bags of potato chips!
My favorite low-carb picnic salad is so easy, and you can make so many variations (plain to fancy). I almost always get at least one request for the recipe. Sometimes from people who've asked for the recipe before, and just didn't realize it was another variation of the recipe I already gave them. Or they'll say "I sure hope that's your frozen veggie salad," (and sometimes someone will overhear and think the veggies are still frozen and it's meant to be eaten frozen and say "yuck", and I'll have to explain that the salad isn't frozen, it was just made from frozen veggies).
a bag or two of frozen veggies (like california blend: carrots, broccoli, cauliflower. You can use a single veggie such as broccoli or cauliflower, but I usually use a blend).
favorite vinaigrette or italian salad dressing (about a cup per pound bag of veggies)
packet ranch dressing mix
1/2 cup or so of diced mild onion or scallions and/or bell pepper (optional).
Whisk or stir briskly the dressing and dressing mix in a medium to large bowl. Add the frozen and fresh veggies (frozen) and stir to blend (the dressing may look really thick, depending on the oil in the dressing).
Allow to thaw in the fridge overnight (if it's going to an actual outdoors picnic in warm weather) or at least 24 hours (if it's going to be going from fridge to table).
Now to fancy it up, or make a different variety, I'll use different blends of frozen veggies (Walmart's asparagus stir fry blend is one of my favorites) and fresh veggies. You can add as many or as few as you'd like: Baby corn (from ajar or can), water chestnuts, palm hearts, bamboo shoots (especially good wiht an oriental salad dressing), fresh herbs (like parsley or cilantro), grape or halved cherry tomatoes, canned, jarred, or frozen artichoke hearts, green or black olives (whole or sliced), jarred peppers (roasted red pepper slices or yellow pepper rings or cherry peppers, mild or mildly spicy), diced celery - actually just about any mix of fresh and frozen veggies that you'd like, and a bit of cheese works nicely too (small cubes or hard grated cheese like romano or parmesan).
The salad dressing can be any type too. The ranch dressing powder isn't essential, but the salad dressing has to be fairly flavorful or the dressing will be diluted from the moisture in the frozen veggies. So if I don't add the ranch dressing powder, I'll add extra garlic powder or even fresh garlic, salt and pepper. Lawry's seasoning salt or Goya adobo seasoning work nicely too in place of the ranch dressing powder.
I think vinaigrettes work better than creamy dressings. I usually make my own.
Two parts mild vinegar or citrus juice, Zero to three parts oil (any vegetable oil. I usually use canola, olive oil, walnut oil or some combination). Splenda to taste, salt, pepper, lawry's seasoning salt, garlic powder or dehydrated minced garlic, a pinch of salt and a dash of pepper.
If you use a stronger vinegar, the classic combination is one part vinegar to two parts oil. Rice wine vinegar is so mild, that you can use a lot less oil, which is why I said 0 to 3 parts oil. When I use it as a coleslaw dressing I add no oil and I match the measure of vinegar with Splenda (if I use 1/2 cup vinegar, then I use 1/2 cup Splenda).
Walnut and other nut oils are wonderful, but pretty expensive. So usually I reserve the fancy vinegars and nut oils for when I'm making a small batch with fancy ingredients to impress the heck out of guests. For a large picnic sized bowl, I use canola oil and rice wine vinegar.
I made a batch when my family visited from Illinois last week, with some pomegranate blueberry vinegar as the acid in the dressing. Kind of a mistake. It tasted wonderful, but it darkened the veggies oddly. Most disturbing was the weird purple-gray color that the cauliflower picked up.