Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Asian Dressing and Raisins

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Happy Labor Day, folks!

I’m on my way back to DC, after a whirlwind weekend spent at the ultimate NYC wedding celebration. The culmination? A ceremony and dinner last night at Blue Hill Stone Barns, a fine dining hotspot that surely many of my foodie readers have heard about. I can’t wait to share my thoughts on the ceremony and my recap through photos—not to mention details of my all vegan wedding dinner—but today, I’m here to share a recipe that tickled my palate in the weeks before I left for NYC and Portland. August feels like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it?

When people ask me if there are any vegetables that can’t be eaten raw, I always give the standard advice: beware of raw potatoes (though raw yams can work well in certain recipes), winter squash, and some people claim that raw green beans and snap peas can be mildly toxic (I eat the latter raw, not the former). Additionally, many people find that raw legumes, even sprouted, can be a digestive nightmare; I personally find cooked beans much easier to digest than sprouted ones. Finally, I caution everyone to listen to their bodies and use intuition: if there’s a certain vegetable that just seems to wreak havoc on you when you eat it raw, cut yourself a break, and try gently steaming it for a while.

Raw broccoli used to be just that food for me. I digest it with no trouble when it’s steamed, but eating it raw was rather unpredictable. Something has changed, and suddenly I find myself loving—and digesting well—raw broccoli in all sorts of recipes and applications. I’ve even been choosing it instead of cucumbers and carrots for dipping and snacking. I love when our relationship with a food shifts over time.

For those of you who are still feeling so-so about the prospect of raw broc—and believe me, I get it—I have a few ideas about how you can make the stuff far more palatable. The first idea I’ll share is this fabulous raw broccoli and cauliflower slaw with Asian “peanut” dressing and raisins. Chopping the crucifers very finely will help you to digest them better (as will chewing your food well—ahem!) and render them a little more tasty. The dressing, which is one of my all time favorites (and, judging by reader response, a favorite of yours, too) takes care of the rest, uniting this into a sweet, salty, gingery, and downright fantastic salad for any time of year.

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Raw Broccoli and Cauliflower Salad with Creamy Asian Dressing (raw, vegan, GF)

Serves 4

3 heaping cups broccoli florets
3 heaping cups cauliflower florets
1 small or 1/2 large red bell pepper, chopped
1/3 cup raisins

1 batch of my creamy Asian dressing (for this recipe, I’d add extra lime juice for more zesty taste!)

1) Place the broccoli and cauliflower in a food processor and roughly process. Alternately, chop into small pieces with a big knife.

2) Transfer to a bowl and add chopped bell pepper and raisins.

3) Dress to taste with creamy Asian dressing, and serve! I like this finished with a squeeze of lime.

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Quick point of interest before I go: many of you have asked me about goitrogens in raw broccoli and other crucifers. It’s totally true that cruciferous veggies contain goiter producers, or goitrogens, that can interfere with the synthesis of thyroid hormones and block iodine absorption. On the other hand, keeping broccoli raw protects its vitamin C content and leaves available sulforaphane, a cancer fighting compound that is made inaccessible to our bodies through the cooking process. For this reason, I’d suggest that anyone with thyroid issues try steaming all broccoli and other crucifers lightly before consumption (talk to your health care provider if you have more questions, of course), and that everyone else consume broccoli regularly in both raw and cooked form, so as to always enjoy the full spectrum of its health offerings!

OK: I have errands and studying and a dinner date to get to. Tomorrow: wedding weekend adventures!


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Categories: Salads
Ingredients: Broccoli, Cauliflower
Dietary Preferences: Raw

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  1. Hi, just wondering about the dressing on this salad? I so want to try it!
    The link seems to be broken.. does anyone know the recipe?


  2. I have discovered that I can cook cauliflower/brocolli slightly and it is still crunchy to use in salads or with dip!

  3. This looks great- the link to the dressing is broken however! Do you have the recipe? Thanks!

  4. Hahaha, I love it! I also usually steal vegan eats and veggie leftovers after family gathering. I wouldnt want them to go to waste, so I take them to-go! There tend to be a lot of the precut veggies at recent gatherings, so my last foray with 2 cups of broccoli and cauliflower had me making a similar salad as yours. I had sunflowers seeds, currants, lime, cilantro and dulse. Super yum. Your version looks great, too!

  5. Love your blog! I’m new to raw/vegan eating and your recipes are very doable. In this article, you said that winter squash shouldn’t be eaten raw. I often munch on raw pieces as I’m chopping them to steam. How bad is it to eat them raw. How do I know what can be eaten raw? I’m married to a Jamaican and am using vegetables that I wasn’t familiar with. Some taste quite good raw but now I’m concerned.

  6. i just made this recipe : )
    i chopped up the veggies small enough to wrap into a sheet of nori….i did add some chopped almonds and cashews, as i went for a 4.5 mile run and needed some ‘nut meat’….
    the dressing was really easy to make….i did not have to add quite as much olive oil in mine and not as much water either…
    my kids ate it as their salad before their more traditional dinner and so did my brother (who makes fun of my raw/vegan diet) and he gobbled it up….
    overall the salad plus the asian dressing–AMAZING : )
    this recipe goes into the ‘keep’ pile of recipes needing to be filed…
    next time i am chopping up the kids serving to fit into a nori sheet–once they saw mine, they wanted one too
    thanks for the recipes!

  7. You know I DO love that Asian dressing.

    Once again Gena, you’ve done it again. Another corker of a recipe.

    I also use broccoli in my green smoothies to change things up a bit.

  8. My Baby sister and I were just talking about how great raw broccoli is in salads, because the little tops soak up so much sauce! I am forwarding this to her!

  9. Glad you had a good time at the wedding!

    I go through phases with broccoli and cauliflower cooked vs raw–there have been times when I’ve loved them raw and others when I just can’t stomach them.

    I do have thyroid issues (post-ED) but my naturopath suggested that I didn’t need to worry too much about avoiding goitrogenic veggies (although he did recommend cooking them).

    I adore having raisins with them too: I have a curry salad recipe with broc and/or cauliflower, sliced apples, celery, raisins (and/or gojis) and a spicy curry dressing–so good! I haven’t made that in ages–I should!

  10. the combination of broccoli and raisns reminds me of something my mom made when I was little. Love the combo!

  11. Great recipe, Gena! I always want the raisin-broccoli salad, but I hate mayo, and they always are drowning in that nastiness.

  12. Thanks for the info about what foods to avoid eating raw! 🙂 Very helpful! I love raw green beans so hearing they might be mildly toxic is disappointing. I tried a Jerusalem artichoke raw and thought it was quite nice. Sort of tasted like a cross between a potato and an apple, and similar to jicama. Not sure if that’s a common thing people eat raw though. I agree with Jen’s comment above – if you ever run out of post ideas, a post about various vegetables and how cooking or leaving them raw affects their nutritional properties would be fascinating. I am ordering Becoming Raw on Amazon to learn more about raw diets from a RD perspective and am excited to read it because you have made me excited about raw food! This recipe looks great because I love raw broccoli and cauliflower and I love peanut dressings! Yay!

    • Oops just realized there aren’t peanuts in your Asian dressing lol. I don’t know where I got that from!

      • My fiance and I split this for lunch but with the Spicy Nut Dressing from La Dolce Vegan instead of the Asian dressing because I don’t like dressings with a lot of oil. I also added red cabbage because I love it and I have a lot in the house. It was sooo good and filling! We loved it and will be eating it again!

  13. Looks great! I can’t wait to try some. I love broccoli, have you tried the broccoli salad at Sweet Tomatoes?

  14. Oh. Wow. Just made this with broc/cauli + carrots and minus the red peppers because I forgot to pick them up at the store, and I’m totally blown away (especially with the dressing). I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and rank it as one of my very favorites, and this is one example of why. Thank you!

  15. I don’t think I’d be able to handle raw broccoli… I even need to be careful with the cooked kind (though it’s one of my faves)!

  16. Happy Labor Day!

    This looks great, I can eat broccoli raw with hummus or dip, but not too much of it! 🙂

  17. What a delicious combination! I’ve always really like raisins and broccoli together.

  18. Happy Labor Day to you as well!!

    Great recipe and raw vegetable tips.

    Can’t wait to find out more about the wedding weekend adventures!

  19. This reminds me of my favorite broccoli salad that I used to eat before I was vegetarian and dairy free. I can’t wait to make it!

  20. whoa i would NEVER try to eat a raw potato! eeps. broc as long as i don’t eat heaps of it raw i’m usually ok with however, cauliflower is another story! i might want to have a small serving of this or quickly blanch em!

  21. Yum, I love broccoli in all its forms! I can imagine slathered in a peanut dressing won’t be any different. Good luck studying and I can’t wait to hear all about the wedding!

  22. I adore raw broccoli, as weird as that sounds. But cooked its great too. I guess its a good thing that I like it both ways?

    Thanks for this recipe. I’m just starting my own pre-med degree and I can already attest to the demanding workload. Quick recipes are my friend!

  23. thanks for the mention about goitrogens and crustiferous veggies. because i developed a thyroid problem while 100% raw and eating lots of crustiferous veggies (not likely the cause since it runs in my family, but I was doing a lot of them) I am happy to eat them cooked now. i figure i can have plenty of other veggies raw and fruits. if i do eat raw broccoli i only tend to like the farmer’s market variety that is a bit more tender. it is easier to digest but not as hardy and durable as a farmer told me, so it’s only buy local on that one. glad you didn’t starve at the wedding! the past two I practically did even with advance notice.

  24. Anything with a yummy, drinkable type peanut dressing has my name all over it! I love that this salad only has but 4 ingredients or so and something everybody would love in a raw form.
    Can’t wait to try out in the near future!

  25. I really can’t stand raw broccoli. It’s not that I have trouble digesting it (well, I guess I wouldn’t know because I never eat it), but I just despise the taste of it! Every time I’ve tasted a piece of raw broccoli to see if my palate has changed, I find out after one bite that it hasn’t. I love steamed broccoli though! There are just certain veggies I prefer raw over cooked, and vise versa. Red bell peppers are one that I love raw! Maybe I’ll just make the dressing from this recipe and use raw bells for some dipping action. 😉

    By the way, I’d love to read a post with more information about the nutritional qualities of various veggies when they’re cooked vs. raw. Interesting topic!

  26. Love it when the brocc. is small! Beautiful dish and the raisins sound like great combo.

  27. Can’t wait to hear about the wedding adventures. From broccoli talk to weddings, I love it all.

    We eat raw brock here (actually more often than cooking it b/c that way I don’t have to smell broccoli Stink House…you know, that lovely smell that lingers after you cook the brock b/c the sulfates are being released).

    But I do have to be careful how much cruciferous veggies I eat, raw or cooked, just b/c they are so fiber-riffic 🙂

    Other veggies I have eaten raw (as a taste test) but wouldn’t really recommend…brussels sprouts, turnips, parsnips, squash to name a few. Blech!

    Happy Labor Day and don’t work too hard!

    • Ooh I like parnips raw as a rice but only processed with a bit of pine nut action and some rice wine vinegar and a tiny bit of agave (nice in raw sushi) but that would be the only time 🙂

      • yep, girlonraw, this is the only way i will eat parsnips raw or cooked as ‘sushi rice’ prepared almost the same way you mention above : )

  28. So true on August, it just flew by! Raw broccoli too some adjusting to for me too, for awhile I couldn’t eat it raw and now I can in smaller amounts I find. This dish looks wonderful, I night have to try it tonight since I have most of the ingredients. 🙂 Thanks!