Dolmas Salad with Roasted Cauliflower Rice

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Dolmas Salad with Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Hello, hello! I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. I’ve got something entirely plant-based and healthy today to combat any turkey, gravy and pie overload you may be suffering from. It’s a delicious side dish salad that is loosely based on dolmas ingredients with grape leaves, raisins, pine nuts, parsley, mint, green onions, rice (sort of) and lemon juice.

A friend of mine made it for us a while ago (she followed this recipe from Sunset magazine) and I modified it a bit and substituted cauliflower rice for actual rice, purely because I had never made it and was curious. Now, if you’ve never had cauliflower rice you’re probably thinking “Are you kidding me, how could you possibly pass off cauliflower as rice?” At least that’s what I thought before I tried it but trust me, it actually really does taste like rice, it’s quite baffling!

Anyway, you can substitute cooked rice, of course, if you’d like. I suggest you serve this salad with lamb or white fish, like tilapia. Enjoy! :)


Food Photography and Styling: I kind of dreaded shooting this salad because I knew it was going to be a boring jumble of non-colorful and shapeless stuff. Luckily the grape leaves came to my rescue, when I unfolded them I was surprised how intact and beautiful they were so I used one in the photo as a liner for the salad (and at the same time as a cue to tell the viewer that grape leaves are an ingredient in this salad). The brown burlap pieces underneath the plate are from a ribbon that I got at Jo-Ann the other day and I thought the color worked well in this shot. I used my strobe to light the set from the back.

Camera Settings: Nikon D600, 105mm, f/5.6, 1/125 sec., ISO 100. One Hensel Integra Pro Plus 500 Monolight.


Dolmas Salad with Roasted Cauliflower Rice Recipe

serves 3-4

Adapted from:


For the cauliflower rice:

  • florets from one small head of cauliflower (cut the larger ones so that all are about equal in size)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander

For the salad:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped grape leaves (reserve the brine)
  • the cauliflower rice
  • 1/4 cup grape leaf brine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped raisins
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon chopped mint
  • salt and pepper


For the cauliflower rice:

  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Working in batches, pulse the cauliflower in the food processor until it has the consistency of rice.
  3. Toss the cauliflower with the oil and the coriander and spread onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  4. Roast for 10 minutes.

For the salad:

  1. Heat the oil on medium heat until shimmering.
  2. Add the nuts and green onions and saute for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the grape leaves and the cauliflower rice and cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Turn the heat off and stir in the remaining ingredients, then season with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.


  1. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    I really think it turned out great. I love that grape leaf under the salad.Now Nicole, I’ve yet to see one of your photos as boring — dark, moody, inspiring but boring? Never!! I am so looking forward to your dry ice verdict. Sure would help out my “steam” situation.

  2. Maggie says:

    Love the idea of decorating the salad with a piece of grape leaf! Shooting a salad with less colors is definitely a challenge, and I really like the way you present it. The cauliflower rice sounds very delicious too!

  3. Mary (The Godmother @ Goodie Godmother) says:

    This sounds refreshing! I’m so torn between wanting to try it the next time I open a bottle of grape leaves or sticking to my family’s recipe for rolled grape leaves (it’s one of my favorite foods ever!). Maybe this is something I’ll make with a few torn leaves. ;) Looks wonderful!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Mary! This was actually the very first time I ever bought grape leaves (took me forever to find them in the store), I can imagine there are all kinds of other fun recipes to use them in. I definitely want to experiment a bit more with them :)

  4. Kevin | Keviniscooking says:

    This one caught my eye by the title then the photo, lovely and a great idea! Just another beautiful presentation and photo.
    Hope your Thanksgiving was a good one, we’ve up in Beavercreek outside Portland for a blissful week of no work or blogging, just chill and hikes – and eating!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Kevin! Chilling, hiking and eating – sounds like a perfect vacation. We just got back from New Mexico, doing pretty much the same. :) I do have to visit Oregon sometime, I keep hearing such great things about it but I’ve never been.

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