We eat with our eyes first so Purple Cauliflower & Broccoli Raisin Salad is a visual feast! This easy salad is colorful, healthy, and chock full of cauliflower, broccoli, golden raisins, pistachios and bacon with a sweet and tangy dressing. It's also gluten-free, dairy-free, and I give you a sugar-free option.
You can make it ahead of time for potlucks, parties and backyard BBQ's and there's plenty of flavor options in the recipe so you can get creative.
How did I come up with this salad, you ask?
It is a variation of a recipe I developed for Christmas with Southern Living 2010 cookbook, Broccoli-Cauliflower Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pistachios. Both recipes are variations of the traditional broccoli raisin salad you might have seen at a potluck or holiday family buffet.
The traditional sweet and tangy salad has broccoli, dark raisins, and typically toasted pecans and ALWAYS bacon. The dressing is made with mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper.
My variation for the Christmas cookbook traded out half of the broccoli florets for cauliflower, adding a contrasting white color to the green broccoli. I swapped dried cranberries for raisins and pistachios for pecans in that version.
Substitutions and add-ins
Since yellow is opposite purple on the color wheel, I used golden raisins this time. I kept the pistachios but pecans, sunflower seeds, walnuts and pine nuts would work just fine.
I opted for green onion instead of red onion in this version. I used red wine vinegar but apple cider vinegar works, too.
Can I substitute white cauliflower for purple?
Yes. White and green cauliflower, green Romanesco, and orange cauliflower can all be substituted for purple cauliflower.
Why is purple cauliflower purple?
It is naturally this vibrant hue of purple thanks to an antioxidant called anthocyanin. It’s the same antioxidant found in red cabbage and red wine.
It has a short peak season from summer to early fall but often found at the larger grocery stores and farmers markets beyond this time frame.
The cauliflower on the left from Frieda's Specialty Produce is raw and the head on the right is blanched (boiled 1 minute). What a drastic color change just from slightly cooking it!
I'm amazed at both gorgeous colors. Try my Roasted Purple Cauliflower recipe that is the color of the head on the left.
Purple Cauliflower & Broccoli Raisin Salad Ingredients
- Half of one head purple or white cauliflower
- 2 crowns or half of one head broccoli
- 5 slices bacon
- 2 green onions or chopped red onion
- 3/4 cup golden raisins or raisins
- Chopped pistachios or pecans
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
- Salt and pepper
How do I cut a head of cauliflower into florets?
To cut the cauliflower and broccoli into florets, remove the outer leaves and bottom of the core. Turn the halves over (only using half a head) and start cutting the stems "to but not through" the other end of the flowers.
If you simply start chopping the heads, you will have tiny little buds flying everywhere and lose value vegetable this way.
As you are cutting from the stem to almost the other side of the flower buds, gently pull them apart. This prevents the knife from cutting up the buds and keeps the floret in tact.
Keep cutting the larger pieces into smaller florets until you have cut them into about 1 inch florets.
Don't discard the stems! Chop those up, too! Those are just as yummy.
Can I make this salad ahead of time?
Broccoli Raisin and Purple Cauliflower Salad can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time after all the ingredients are combined. I like to hold out the bacon until right before serving so it still has a crunch.
You can also chop all the ingredients and combine the dressing ingredients separately two days ahead of time, then combine them up to 24 hours before serving.
How can I make this salad sugar-free?
Easy. Two things:
- Be sure to use a mayonnaise that is sugar-free. Dukes mayonnaise is sugar-free.
- Trade out the sugar for 1 tablespoon Splenda or 1 teaspoon powdered stevia
You may have to adjust the amount according to your taste. This salad is a sweet and tangy salad but not meant to be overly sweet.
What is the shortcut?
Broccoli and cauliflower florets are sold in refrigerated packages in the produce section of grocery stores. I haven't seen purple cauliflower pre-chopped, but plenty of white!
Another shortcut is to purchase a bottle of cole slaw dressing or poppy seed salad dressing. Both are on the sweet side and creamy side so they are perfect substitutions for the homemade mayo-based dressing in this recipe.
I cringe at bottles of "bacon bits" but pre-cooked bacon slices, crumbled is a good shortcut. Also, in the recipe, I describe my technique for cutting the bacon up into small pieces before cooking. That is a shortcut because you don't have to babysit turning slices of bacon and no messy crumbling after cooking.
Watch me make the salad on WBRC Good Day Alabama video
If you make this recipe I'd love to see it! Tag me on social media with #gritsandgouda or @gritsandgouda. Leave a comment below the printable recipe if you have questions or tell me how you liked the recipe. Don't forget to give the recipe a rating of 5 stars if you love it!
Other Salads you may enjoy:
PIN FOR LATER
Purple Cauliflower & Broccoli Raisin Salad
- 5 slices uncooked bacon
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 3 tablespoons red wine or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 of one head purple or white cauliflower about 4 cups florets
- 1/2 of one head broccoli about 4 cups florets
- 3/4 cup golden raisins
- 1/2 cup chopped toasted pistachios or pecans
- 3 tablespoons chopped green onion or Vidalia onion
- Stack the slices of bacon and slice crosswise all at one time into 1/4-inch thick pieces. This will save time turning whole slices while frying and crumbling after cooking. Cook bacon pieces in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium-low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring often, until crisp and browned. Drain on paper towels.
- Meanwhile, combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl: mayo, vinegar, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- To cut the cauliflower and broccoli into florets, remove the outer leaves and bottom of the core. Turn the halves over (only using half a head) and start cutting the stems "to but not through" the other end of the flowers. If you simply start chopping the heads, you will have tiny little buds flying everywhere and lose value vegetable this way.As you are cutting from the stem to almost the other side of the flower buds, gently pull them apart. This prevents the knife from cutting up the buds and keeps the floret in tact. Keep cutting the larger pieces into smaller florets until you have cut them into about 1 inch florets. Don't discard the stems! Chop those up, too! Those are just as yummy.
- Combine cauliflower, broccoli, raisins, pistachios, and green onion in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir gently to coat. You can add bacon now or save til right before serving.Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes and up to 24 hours before serving.