Cauliflower, Broccoli & Pepita Salad

tossed broccoli, cauliflower & sesame salad

I’ve heard that trying to please everyone, as a general life strategy, may at best lead to disappointment and, at worst, failure. Eek.

But what if, say, without even trying, you just happen to please everyone? Hmm.

I thought about this on Sunday night as I sat at Pizza Buono, our favorite neighborhood spot not only for its delectable pizza and fresh-squeezed juices but also for its dining room, which is equipped with a well-stocked play kitchen for the kids.

Ben and I had grabbed a salad, a pre-made sort-of slaw, to tide us over while our pizzas cooked. We ate it straight from its clamshell packaging, passing it back and forth every few bites. Lightly dressed, the raw shavings of cauliflower and broccoli tasted fresh and crisp, and with every bite, I kept thinking how this combination would make the perfect side dish for a summer bbq, the ideal salad to take camping.

And as I inspected the ingredients, I realized I had encountered a gold mine. It’s raw. It’s vegan. It’s gluten- and nut-free. And it happens to be delicious. Who would suspect that raw, shaved broccoli and cauliflower would pair so nicely with sesame seeds and pepitas?

When I made the salad the next day at home, I added a few things I always add to these sorts of salads: a little heat (jalapeño and red pepper flakes), sliced scallions, red onion, and a little dried fruit (dates) for a touch of sweetness. For the first time ever, I used the slicer attachment to my Cuisinart and discovered that one head of broccoli and cauliflower yields an enormous salad, more than enough for one dinner and lunch the following two days. Bold statement: no salad in the history of the world better stands the test of time than this one. A no-mayo dressing, too, means it will be safe on that buffet table for hours.

Look, I’m not trying to foster any people-pleasing tendencies you might be wrestling with, but this salad might just be your ticket to bbq bliss all summer long.


Slicer attachment to food processor:
shredder attachment


shredded cauliflower and broccoli

This is a great way to start any grain or raw vegetable salad: diced red onions macerated with a few tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt:
macerating red onions

Pepitas, ready for the oven:
toasting the pepitas

ready to be tossed

tossed broccoli & cauliflower salad

This salad packs so nicely:
packed salad

On day two, veggies are just as crisp, salad just as delicious:
salad, day

Cauliflower, Broccoli & Sesame Salad
Inspired by a salad at Pizza Buono

Notes: Because the pepitas are toasted, this salad isn’t probably technically raw, so feel free to leave them raw if you are sticking to that sort of diet. And because sesame seeds can trigger allergic reactions, please check before serving this salad to those with nut allergies.

This salad keeps very well. Can be made a day in advance.

Unfortunately, I can’t think of a great alternative to the slicer attachment of the food processor. A blender will likely turn the vegetables to mush; a mandoline (or a sharp knife) will work but will take forever. Thoughts?

1 cup raw pepitas
1 tablespoon olive oil
kosher salt or sea salt
1 small red onion or a couple of shallots
3 to 4 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
1 head cauliflower
1 head broccoli
1 bunch (about 6 stalks) scallions
1/4 cup sesame seeds, toasted or not
1 jalapeño or other hot chili, minced
2 to 3 Medjool dates, finely diced, or other dried fruit (golden raisins, dried cranberries)
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a few more tablespoons to taste
1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt
red pepper flakes to taste (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spread pepitas on a sheetpan, toss with 1 tablespoon (you could probably get away with using less) olive oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out and toast for 7 to 10 minutes or until you hear them starting to pop. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

2. Meanwhile, dice the onions or shallots and place in a small bowl. Cover with three tablespoons of vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

3. Using the slicer attachment to your food processor, slice up the cauliflower and broccoli. I used almost the entire head each of cauliflower and broccoli and stopped forcing florets down the shoot once my food processor was loosely filled. The final yield was about 8 loosely packed cups.

4. Place sliced cauliflower and broccoli in a large bowl. Thinly slice the scallions (white and light green parts) and add to the bowl. Add sesame seeds, minced jalapeño and diced dates to bowl. Add cooled pepitas and macerated onions (with the vinegar) to the bowl. Add olive oil to bowl. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Taste. If the jalapeño has provided enough heat, omit the red pepper flakes; if not, add pepper flakes to taste. Add more salt if necessary. Add more olive oil and vinegar as necessary: I added two more tablespoons olive oil and one more tablespoon vinegar. I used a whole teaspoon of salt. Toss again and taste.


  1. kate says

    my mom is always trying to remind me how useful the Cuisinart is and I haven’t used that attachment yet – very excited!

    • says

      Yay! Seriously, I have had my Cuisinart for 9 years, and I had to remove a protective sticker covering the blade of this attachment when I set out to use it. I shouldn’t have waited so long. Your mom is right — SO useful.

  2. Sunie Worrells says

    Looks yummy and we will be having this soon! I’ve fallen in love with white balsamic. I got ours at Temecula Olive Oil which is a great find. I roasted halved and cleaned artichokes sprinkled with white balsamic, evoo, s&p, and we were in heaven.

    • says

      Sunie that sounds amazing! I have never roasted artichokes. Care to share any more details? Would love to know time and temperatures please :) Temecula Olive Oil is the absolute best. Miss that place.

    • says

      Yes! Sounds good. I have a few florets of both broccoli and cauliflower, and I have been meaning to see how they fare down the mandoline’s plane. I will report back, too.

    • Laura in Sonoma says

      Leftovers again today… funny thing is I had no idea what the hell a pepita was, but use pumpkin seeds ALL the time in place of other nuts/seeds. Now I know.

      • says

        Haha, I love it. I have been asked a lot in the past couple of days what the hell is a pepita — I should make a note. And I don’t know why I don’t use them ALL the time. I have been on a huge kick these past few weeks. They are addictive! I made a variation of this salad to take camping with us this weekend — basically just added cooked quinoa to the mix. It was great to have on hand. Hope you are well! So great to hear from you.

  3. says

    I LOVE going to a restaurant for a certain dish (pizza, in your case) and being wowed by something completely unexpected, like your salad experience. I’m so glad you shared! This is wonderful, and I don’t use pepitas often enough.

    OK I just bought a huge head of napa cabbage and broccoli to turn into a slaw tomorrow — slicing blade it is! I never knew what it could do to a head of broccoli until now! Thanks :)

    • says

      Napa cabbage would be so good in this! I think the possibilities are endless, really. And i know, the salad was a total surprise. I have been craving my usual Grecian — olives, basil, feta — and I left dreaming of broccoli :)

  4. says

    Yep, you happened on a people pleaser all right. Plus it’s pretty. It’s always nice to have our food look good. I do eat ugly food or more like boring looking food, but cheerful looking like this salad is a bennie. Lol. Lots of crunch too—plus all the reasons you mentioned because if you are bringing this for a mixed crowd who knows what restrictions are lurking.

  5. Emily says

    Not quite the same but I think would work well in this salad for those who don’t have the shredder attachment…Trader Joe’s has a great mix called Cruciferous Crunch, shredded and ready to go. It is a combo of cabbage, kale, broccoli and some others- hearty enough to hold over for a few days but not so much that it’s tough.
    This looks great- can’t wait to try it!!

    • says

      Emily, this is genius! Thank you for this idea. So smart. This will totally work. I will have to look out for this mix. I finally have a Traders nearby!

  6. Shelley says

    I have already made this twice – perfect timing for local broccoli and cauliflower coming in down here in north Ga, and so so so delicious!
    I have a mini food processor and the slicer attachment stinks and just pulverized the cauliflower. So I just used the thin slice on my mandoline, it didn’t take all that long. I love how much of the broccoli stem you get to use, and love the crunch of the salad!
    The second time I made it I used just chopped kale and sliced broccoli, still delicious. I also substituted half the olive oil for sesame oil, delish! Thank you for the recipe – its so nice to have something cold but hearty to eat for lunch on a hot day!

    • says

      yay! wonderful to hear this, Shelley! Love the idea of subbing in some sesame oil for more of an Asian twist… you’re inspiring me to try some variations. Yum!

  7. Samantha says

    I made this salad last night and had it again for lunch today. It was delicious! Light but refreshing. A little sweet, a bite of heat. Held up well to being refrigerated overnight. My boyfriend, who is NOT a veggie lover, declared it absolutely delicious! Thank you for posting it (and bringing peace and harmony to our dinner table)!

    • says

      So happy to hear this, Samantha! Isn’t it nice that it keeps well? My husband, too, who does not gravitate to the raw veggie-and-dip bowl, loves this. Glad to have contributed to bringing harmony to your table!

  8. Dee Dee says

    Perfect! Thank you so much. Whipped this up moments after reading your post to accompany a tasty filled pita for dinner. The littles loved and the adults as well. Rarely cauliflower available in the area we live – but there are 200 plus types of kimchi to enjoy, so no complaints – but the salad didn’t suffer with lone broccoli.

    Keep ’em coming, Alexandra. We are waiting for more deliciousness from your kitchen….

    • says

      THanks for your kind words, Dee Dee! Means so much. So happy you liked this salad. I feel like it (or some variation of it) will be making an appearance in my kitchen a lot this summer.

  9. Laura in Sonoma says

    Hi Ali,

    Making it again today for lunch, hubby had an idea to add red grapes to give it just a bit more moisture. We do a ‘sonoma chicken salad’ with red grapes that’s really good that gave us the idea.

    Making your other wheat berry (quinoa) salad again tomorrow for Meatless Mondays. It’s a hit whenever I serve it!

    OH and tonight doing a grilled branzino based on your grilled trout recipe from the archives. We are lucky cause we have an amazing fish market nearby…

    It’s an “All Ali” day :)

    • says

      Oh Laura, nothing makes me happier than to hear all of this. Love the idea of adding grapes, and I absolutely love a chicken salad with grapes. Yum! What else is in yours? Sounds so good this time of year. Grilled Branzino sounds amazing, too. I need to get to my farmers’ market this Sunday — it’s the only place I can find truly fresh fish. I will look out for Branzino. Hope you are well!

  10. says

    Made this salad two days ago to the delight of my entire family! Both my 3 year old and 1 year old ate every. single. bite. I love that it makes a big salad that we can eat for a couple of days. Thank you!!!

    • says

      Emma, that is a real feat, especially in regard to the three-yr old. I can get my one-year old to eat most of these things, but the two older ones have gotten SO picky, which is SO annoying. ANywya, so happy you like this. I love that about this salad too — make a big batch, eat it for days :) THanks for writing in!

  11. Josie says

    Delicious recipe, as always! The mandolin method is totally doable — just a bit more time consuming and be careful :)

    • says

      Josie, I’m so happy to hear this! It’s nice to know the mandoline can be used if someone doesn’t have a food processor. I should put on my kevlar gloves and give it a go! Kiss that baby for me! xoxo

  12. says

    This looks so delicious! And crazy simple too.
    You know, I don’t think I’ve ever used the slicing attachment on my food processor…I guess it’s more useful than I thought!

  13. says

    Alexandra: you have the most delicious recipes ever! I just pinned pretty much all of them :) Everything is so mouthwatering good. Can not wait to try some on my own blog. Plus the photos are amazing.

  14. bates says

    Made this gem tonight for a beach picnic dinner. Yum yum! I used dried cranberries and sliced almonds (since I didn’t realize at the grocery store that pumpkin seeds are pepitas… oops! lesson learned!). Can’t wait to have the leftovers tomorrow.

    • says

      Yay! Dried cranberries sound delicious and are much easier to chop than dates, which I love, but which can be annoying. Almonds are a perfect substitution for pepitas. Well done. xoxo

  15. Denise says

    Tried this recipe out for my niece’s graduation party in June ~ and it has been our “go-to” dish for potlucks/BBQs/picnics ever since. Even my toddler asks for it by the bowl! Thank you!

  16. says

    This salad is incredible! I just made it for lunches tomorrow and tasted the end salad to make sure it was seasoned well… OMG! I’m not done with this batch but I’m already excited to make a new one!

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