Crunchy Vegetable, Avocado & Basil Toss

June 7th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

gluten-free vegetable, avocado, basil salad

The other day I found myself with a little bit of a lot of things hanging around in the fridge. I decided to throw it all together in a salad (as I often do…) and this is what came of it.

We all need these recipes in our back pockets that look and sound impressive but take just minutes to make. It proves that healthy and delicious food doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple says a lot when it comes to nutrition.

Using a food processor to finely chop the broccoli and cauliflower creates a texture much like couscous or quinoa, making this salad taste similar to a chilled grain pilaf but without the grain. If  you don’t have a food processor, I can’t recommend one enough! I use mine probably 4-5 times a week, prepping everything from dressings to salads to batters to puddings. It really is an all-purpose machine that never lets me down.

If you liked the Raw Power Salad I shared a few weeks ago, you’re going to love this salad. It’s a bit creamier thanks to an orange-scented avocado dressing, but the crunchy vegetables still retain their bite and texture. Like all good salads, this one packs a punch with a stellar line-up of antioxidants, too.

Broccoli and cauliflower are cancer-kicking all stars that make it into my grocery cart every week. More and more fresh herbs, like the basil in this salad, are creeping into my fridge these days, too. Right now I’ve got a crisper full of basil, dill, rosemary, and mint. Herbs are flavor heroes! They can rescue even the most ho-hum of dishes from Bland Land and transport them to a much tastier place. I use herbs in just about everything I make to lend fresh, bold flavor (not to mention an added boost of chlorophyll and other oxygenating nutrients).

gluten-free vegetable, avocado, basil salad

I’ve been craving salads lately and eating them for at least 2 meals a day, sometimes even for breakfast. (Mixed greens with shredded carrots, fresh organic strawberries and a poached egg on top? Heaven.)

If you’re a salad-lover, too, you might like these delicious dishes:


Crunchy Vegetable, Avocado & Basil Toss

Serves 4

For the salad:

2 cups broccoli florets

2 cups cauliflower florets

2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks

2 medium scallions, trimmed and roughly chopped

1/3 cup toasted sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raisins or dried currants

For the dressing:

1/2 medium ripe avocado, pitted

1/2 cup (lightly packed) fresh basil

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

Sea salt, to taste

In a food processor fitted with the steel blade, pulse the broccoli and cauliflower florets for 10-15 one-second pulses to finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl. Return the food processor to the stand. Add the carrots and scallions and pulse 5-10 times to finely chop. Transfer to the bowl with the broccoli and cauliflower. Add the sunflower seeds and raisins to the bowl. Return the food processor to the stand.

Scoop the avocado flesh into the bowl of the food processor. Add the basil, orange juice, vinegar, olive oil, orange zest, and granulated garlic. Process until thick and creamy, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the dressing over the salad ingredients and toss to coat. Season to taste with salt. Serve right away.

This recipe is my entry into this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free recipe round-up, hosted by Against All Grain.


  1. Yum – that looks great. I’ve been doing LOTS of recipes like this lately, but I usually quick saute the veggies, because raw cruciferous veggies and I don’t get along all that well. I love the idea of orange and avocado. I think I’m going to pair that with some brussels sprouts and carrots today!

  2. Deanna: I love your idea of making something like this with Brussels sprouts and carrots!! Gonna steal that one for dinner one of these nights. :)

  3. You know how I love my salads and salad dressings :) This is definitely a keeper! I love my food processor too – just got a new one last month and it’s perfect! Thanks for the link love Hallie!

  4. Love the idea of this dressing, Hallie!

  5. Yum! That salad dressing has me salivating just thinking about it!

  6. That salad dressing looks amazing! I could totally take this salad and wrap it up into lettuce leaves or something. Yum.

  7. this looks delicious! i love ricing my cauliflower and broccoli in the food processor — the texture becomes so lovely! thanks for sharing!

  8. We make cauli “rice” a lot as it’s one of the only ways my husband will eat his cauliflower! I don’t usually leave it raw though or add broccoli, I’ll have to give this a trial!

  9. Ooh! Ooh!! I am loving that dressing combo! So making that this week! We live on salads all summer. And I call them the refrigerator salad. Any veggie that is left in the frig is subject to getting thrown into my salads. The good thing is that my boys have learned to love salads by just adding some of their favorite fruits and nuts to them as well! :D This one will be on our summer must-make list now for sure!

  10. You are a rockstar Hallie! I love this salad. I added some purple cabbage and it looked and tasted delicious. Thanks so much for your inspiration and creativity.

  11. Made this last night for dinner! Loved it!! I used fresh parsley as I did not have any fresh basil.

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I'm Hallie Klecker, a professional recipe developer, author, and passionate gluten-free foodie. As a certified holistic nutrition educator, my goal is to inspire others to live a balanced, nourished life through eating well and living pure—one bite at a time. Learn more.