March 20, 2013

Tropical Detox Salad

I spent a few days in Boston last week at a conference - hence the lack of activity around here - and I came back home craving fresh and healthy meals, which always happens when I go away on trips. So this detox salad is what I'm eating this week!

I'm sure there are plenty of great vegetarian places to eat in Boston, but I didn't have any time to explore the city on my own, so my only meals consisted of the Starbucks in the lobby for breakfast, boxed lunches provided by the conference, and dinners at a restaurant nearby chosen by the group. That meant my options on the menu were somewhat limited to things like cheese pizza or pasta with tomato sauce, but I still had a good time which is what counts!

Needless to say, I couldn't wait to get back into my own kitchen and make a huge fresh salad to enjoy. The only vegetable remaining in my fridge was the rest of the parsnips from this recipe, so I searched through my bookmarks for other parsnip ideas and was reminded of this raw parsnip rice with pineapple from the taste space.

A raw salad full of fresh ingredients sounded like just the thing I wanted, so I headed out to the grocery store to pick up the rest of the components.

I ended up changing up Janet's recipe quite a bit to squeeze in even more fruits and veggies and turn the dish into more of a tropical inspired salad than her Thai version.

The base of the salad is a mixture of raw parsnips, carrot, and cauliflower all ground up to resemble the texture of couscous. Next, I added fresh pineapple, mango, red pepper and cucumber, plus some dried apricots, all finely diced to the same size.

Once you've got your fruits and veggies, the next component is to add more layers of flavour with lots of herbs - I used cilantro, mint, and green onion. And of course a great salad in my mind needs some kind of nuts, so I went with Janet's suggestion of adding chopped roasted cashews.

Finally, to bring everything together, I made a light and fruity dressing by pureeing more pineapple with some lime juice and ginger.

This turned out to be exactly what I was craving! The best way to describe this salad is that it's super refreshing, and how could it not be, with all of those raw ingredients? I loved the combination of sweet ripe tropical fruits with the crisp veggies, crunchy cashews, and fresh herbs.

My favourite salads are ones with lots of different ingredients so that every bite is interesting, and I thought all of the components in this salad were balanced out nicely so that one flavour didn't dominate.

This recipe also makes a big batch, and I'm happy to have a full container of it to eat for meals over the next few days until my cravings for comfort food come back!

Tropical Detox Salad
Inspired by the taste space

2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1/2 a small head of cauliflower, chopped
1/2 a large red pepper, finely diced (about 1 cup)
1 cup finely diced cucumber
1 ripe mango, finely diced
1.5 cups diced fresh pineapple
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
5-6 tbsp chopped cashews (I used unsalted roasted cashews)
1/4 cup finely diced apricots

1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
Juice of one lime
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp tamari
1 tsp mirin
1 tsp honey or agave nectar
1 tsp olive oil
Dash of herbamare or salt

Add the parsnips, carrot, and cauliflower to the large bowl of a food processor. Pulse until veggies are finely minced, but not pureed (the texture should resemble rice).  Transfer to a large bowl.   It should look like this: 

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl, stirring to mix thoroughly.

To make the dressing, add all ingredients to a blender and puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning if desired.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to mix.

Store salad in the fridge until ready to eat. Serve cold or at room temperature.  Season each serving with additional lime juice and/or herbamare if desired.

Makes 4-5 large servings.


  1. i can imagine this is just what you were craving after all of those carb heavy meals! it looks so delicious, i would eat this any day of the week!

    1. So true! It would be even better in summertime - normally I wouldn't be craving this kind of food right now with the weather we've been having, but it makes me more excited to start eating more refreshing summer meals!

  2. Yum! I am loving your version: so colourful and vibrant. I wish I had a parsnip (and a pineapple and cauliflower) in my fridge right now. :)

    1. Thanks, and thanks for the idea! I loved how easy it was to make the "rice" or "couscous" as I called it, and it was so much more flavourful than real couscous!

  3. I love how bright and colourful and fresh this is! The perfect healthy dish for detoxing after several days of restaurant meals - I need some now too!

    1. Thanks! Yeah, no kidding - there are some good points about eating out a lot, like not having to clean up after yourself, but I don't like doing it for too long!

  4. The dressing sounds delicious! Love citrus and ginger. Love all of the fresh fruit and veggies in this dish. Awesome salad to come home to!

    It is tough when travelling to find healthy, vegetarian meals. Every time we are away, I always cannot wait to get home and back into the kitchen.

    1. Thanks Courtney! It's true, especially when you're travelling for conferences because most of your meals are eaten out of convenience or lack of choice...and I hate to be the difficult one in the group by being picky about the vegetarian options, so it's best to just make do and always bring along extra snacks for yourself!

  5. I always feel the same way after travelling--I find myself craving fruit and vegetables and other light foods! I love the "couscous" made with veggies. I need to try that!

  6. This is so creative- I love cashews in just about anything! Boston is a great city, too bad you didn't have the chance to explore!



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