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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Dressing

Broccoli and cauliflower salad with avocado dressing makes a wonderful healthy side dish for any meal, potluck or family gatherings. Great textures and fresh flavors.

There’s no shortage of textures in this veggie slaw. You get crunch from the apples, broccoli, cauliflower and nuts. And creaminess from the avocado dressing.

broccoli cauliflower apples avocado salad in bowl

The salad is a nice change from a regular green salad and makes a perfect side dish for lunch, brunch or dinner. No cooking, heating or reheating. It has no bacon and no mayo, but as always, there are lots of variations and substitutions you can use.

The avocado dressing is herby, garlicky. lemony and creamy smooth. FYI, there are lots of other ways to use it (see below).

Bottom line: This easy recipe with simple ingredients is quick and super healthy. Bonus: vegan, gluten free, dairy free.

Tailor To Your Taste

Experiment with different flavors and textures to suit your tastes and what you have in your pantry or fridge. A few suggestions…

Modify the salad (add-ins)

  • skip the cauliflower
  • for even more texture, add jicama slivers, chopped water chestnuts or crunchy sunflower seeds.
  • use purple grapes (cut in half) instead of apples (you can skip the maple syrup with this option)
  • add cranberries or finely chopped red onion
  • add crispy bacon pieces
  • garnish with chopped red pepper for color

Modify the dressing

  • Herbs: Use any combination you like – basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, mint. If you don’t have fresh herbs – or not enough – substitute with dried herbs with a 3:1 ratio (1/2 cup fresh herbs = 2 tablespoons dried or 1 Tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried).
  • Flavors: For Mexican flavors, try a pinch of cumin and lime (instead of lemon). For more tang, add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Add some heat with red pepper flakes.

How to make a fresh broccoli cauliflower salad

apples cauliflower, broccoli head, nuts on board
Salad ingredients: apples, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts
blanched broccoli on white plate
Rinse broccoli, place on plate covered with plastic, and microwave for 2 minutes on high to blanch it. You can blanch the cauliflower too if you like. Run under cold water for a minute.
chopped broccoli cauliflower apple
Chop broccoli, cauliflower and apples into small pieces.
fresh herbs, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, avocado, lemon, garlic, green onions
Dressing ingredients: avocado, lemon, garlic, maple syrup (optional), balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, green onion, fresh herbs
avocado dressing in food processor bowl
Dump dressing ingredients into a food processor or blender and process until smooth. Add a few tablespoons water to thin it out.
salad ingredients mixed in bowl
Place veggies, apples and dressing in bowl. Mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. 
broccoli cauliflower apples avocado salad in bowl 1
Add toasted nuts and chopped red pepper for garnish if you like.
broccoli cauliflower apples avocado salad in bowl p1

Recipe FAQ

How do I choose a ripe avocado?

Check the color and softness. Ripe avocadoes are typically brown or almost black. They should yield to gentle pressure when squeezed. Bright green avocados are not ripe. If there is a nubby stem on the avocado, it will easily break off if it’s ripe – and show a greenish or yellowish color under the stem. Check out the best way to keep a cut avocado fresh (without turning gross).

How can I ripen an avocado at home?

Leave the avocados on the counter at room temperature for 3-5 days. To speed up the ripening process, place them in a paper bag. Do not put whole avocados in the fridge as they won’t ripen.

Is broccoli cauliflower salad with avocado dressing healthy?

Yes. It’s high in fiber, vitamins and healthy fats (from avocado)

Recipe Tips

  1. Take the extra few minutes to blanch the raw veggies, particularly the broccoli. It’s worth it. Blanching for 1-2 minutes in boiling salted water or the microwave, then running under cold water will cook the veggies just enough to remove the slight bitterness while locking in vibrant color and offering a more pleasing texture. The veggies will still have a bite.
  2. Add the dressing close to serving time.

Shortcuts

  • Buy pre-chopped fresh broccoli and/or cauliflower sold in a bag.
  • Instead of the avocado dressing, use a good store-bought dressing such as lemon poppy seed, raspberry vinaigrette, honey-mustard, creamy avocado or a homemade dressing you have on hand.

What to serve with this healthy broccoli cauliflower salad

For brunch or lunch: Serve it with sous vide poached eggs over English muffins, lox and Montreal bagels or a savory vegetable strudel.

For dinner: Serve it as a side dish for a roast turkey breast with pear chutney, sous vide pork roast, balsamic glazed chicken or prime rib. Actually, it goes with almost any main dish.

Make Ahead

I prefer this salad fresh the same day as the dressing gets absorbed by the fruit and veggies, making it a bit drier. But it can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two without turning brown. Do not freeze.

More ways to use creamy avocado dressing

In addition to this broccoli salad recipe, try using the dressing:

  • as a dip (use less water for thicker consistency)
  • to drizzle on tacos, fish, chicken or a potato skillet breakfast.
  • as a dressing for a potato salad, slaw or pasta salad
  • as a filling for wraps
broccoli cauliflower apples avocado salad in bowl
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Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Avocado Dressing

Broccoli and cauliflower salad with avocado dressing makes a wonderful healthy side dish for any meal, potluck or buffet. Great textures and fresh flavors.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time30 mins
Course: Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 8
Author: Cheryl

Ingredients

  • 1 pound broccoli and cauliflower combined (to make 4 cups chopped)
  • 2 apples (no need to peel)
  • 1/2 cup chopped toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts
  • Garnish (optional); 3 tablespoons finely chopped red pepper

Avocado Dressing

  • 1 ripe avocado, peeled with pit discarded
  • 1/2 cup fresh herbs, Note 1
  • 1 green onion (or 2 small thin ones)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste (or honey)
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon (lemon juice and zest) (or 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon minced or grated garlic (1 garlic clove)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water (or more to get consistency you like)

Instructions

  • BLANCH BROCCOLI (optional but recommended): Rinse broccoli florets or head under water, place on microwavable plate or separate bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or plate. Microwave for 2 minutes to blanch it. Then hold under cold water to stop cooking process and lock in vibrant color. You can blanch cauliflower florets at the same time if you like.
  • CHOP VEGETABLES: Chop broccoli, cauliflower and apples into small pieces and place in large bowl. Add any optional add-ins you like, Note 2. Set aside.
  • MAKE THE AVOCADO DRESSING: Place all dressing ingredients into a blender or processor. You can also use an immersion blender. Process until smooth and creamy, about 1 minute. Taste and adjust, adding more lemon, salt, maple syrup etc. if needed. Stir in as much water as you need to get the consistency you like e.g. 2-3 tablespoons. Note 3 for variations and substitutes.
  • COMBINE TO MAKE SALAD: Add most of dressing to fresh veggies and apples and mix to combine well. Add rest of dressing if needed. Spoon into a serving bowl and add toasted nuts and other garnish as you like. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Herbs options: Use any combination you like – basil, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, dill, mint. If you don’t have fresh herbs (or not enough), substitute with dried herbs (1/2 cup fresh herbs = 2 tablespoons dried or 1 Tablespoon fresh = 1 teaspoon dried).
  2. Variations and add-ins for salad: 
    • add crispy bacon pieces
    • garnish with chopped red pepper for color
    • skip the cauliflower
    • for more texture, add jicama slivers, chopped water chestnuts or crunchy sunflower seeds.
    • use purple grapes (cut in half) instead of apples
    • add cranberries or finely chopped red onion
  3. Variations for avocado dressing
    • Flavors: For Mexican flavors, try a dash of cumin and lime (instead of lemon). For more tang, add a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or Greek yogurt. Add some heat with red pepper flakes.
    • Substitutes: Instead of lemon, use apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar or white wine vinegar.
  4. Make Ahead: I prefer this salad fresh the same day as the dressing gets absorbed by the fruit and veggies, making it a bit drier. But it can be stored in an airtight container for a day or two without turning brown.
 
 
Nutrition values are estimates and include the veggies, apples, all the dressing and almonds. 

Nutrition

Calories: 147kcal | Carbohydrates: 17g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 8g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 1g | Sodium: 170mg | Potassium: 459mg | Fiber: 6g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 747IU | Vitamin C: 64mg | Calcium: 69mg | Iron: 1mg
Tried this recipe?We’d love you to rate it above under ‘rate this recipe’ or in the comment section below. Thanks!

This broccoli and cauliflower salad with apples and avocado dressing, originally published in 2017, has been updated with new information, recipe tweaks, tips and pictures.

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