Gluten Free Roasted Cauliflower Couscous Chicken Caprese Salad

Cauliflower is my favorite vegetable.  There’s simply no contest.  I am amazed at its versatility.  It is so much more than just a bunch of boiled white florets.  Cauliflower puree is nothing short of luxurious and is the perfect bed for a perfectly grilled steak.  Roasted cauliflower tossed in parmesan cheese and herbs is a snack-able treat.  Pureed cauliflower serves as a perfect and healthy base to any cream soup.  Pizza crust.  Breadsticks.  Cauliflower rice.  The possibilities are endless.

It’s a rare treat when I can share a recipe with you that includes so many of my favorite ingredients and products rolled into one dish.  But that is exactly what has happened here.  Keep in mind, I have NOT received any product or compensation from these companies.  I just really love them.  They are regulars in my kitchen, and I am glad to give them a shout out.

Cauliflower rice is a wildly popular ingredient these days.  But for this recipe I’ve decided to take things a bit further and processed my cauliflower down to a fine grain couscous.  It is uncanny how closely cauliflower couscous resembles regular couscous in size, texture, and taste.  My kids were completely fooled.  They simply could not believe what they were eating was cauliflower.

One thing that makes this couscous so tasty is the fact that I roasted the cauliflower florets prior to processing them.  Roasting vegetables brings out all of their natural goodness.  I really went back and forth about adding this extra step, but believe me, it is worth it.

Now it was time to transform this cauliflower couscous.  I opted for a classic flavor profile: Caprese.   Diced red onion, mozzarella, fresh basil, and a colorful array of miniature tomatoes (I have zero will power with Sunset’s Wild Wonders tomatoes – they are insanely delicious) find the perfect home in this salad.  I opted to add grilled chicken to the mix as well.

The final element of this recipe that brings everything together is the vinaigrette.  I combined avocado oil with golden balsamic vinegar then filled it with dried Italian herbs and my favorite spice blend from Healthy Solutions Spice Blends: Ultimate Burger.  You may ask, “What in the world is a burger blend doing in a Caprese salad?”  This particular blend is filled with dried bell peppers, onions, and other spices that actually compliment the salad perfectly.

The final dish is colorful, flavorful, healthful, and just plain addicting.

Couscous:
2 large heads of fresh cauliflower, florets removed (yielding about 12 cups)
1/4 cup avocado oil (mild olive oil may be a substitute)

Stir Ins:
1 & 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
3 cups finely diced cooked, grilled chicken breasts
16 oz. skim milk (or fat free) mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes
1/2 cup very tightly packed, freshly chopped basil leaves
3 cups diced fresh tomatoes (I prefer to use a mixture of small, colorful grape/cherry size tomatoes – opt for some yellow, red, and orange varieties)

Dressing:
1/2 cup avocado oil (can use olive oil as a substitute)
1/3 cup + 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
4 Tablespoons dried Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Remove the cauliflower florets from the cauliflower heads.  Place the florets into a large resealable plastic bag.  Pour 1/4 cup of avocado oil into the bag.  Seal and shake to coat.

Place the florets onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (you may need 2 small sheets or one large).  Roast in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.  Flip the cauliflower over at the half way cooking point.

Allow the cauliflower to cool for 10 minutes.  Place the florets into a food processor in 2 batches.  Pulse until the cauliflower breaks down into very small pieces that resemble couscous.  Place into a very large bowl.

Stir in the diced red onion, diced cooked chicken breast, chopped basil leaves, and diced tomatoes.

Place all of the ingredients for the dressing into a jar with a tight fitted lid.  Secure the lid and shake vigorously to emulsify.  Pour the dressing into the couscous and stir to incorporate.  You may serve immediately or cover and chill before serving.

 

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