Cauliflower Cocktail

Prep: 15 minutes Cook: 10 minutes Rest: 10 minutes Chill: 1 hour


I got the idea for this recipe from a comment I saw on the internet about a restaurant in Virginia that servers a dish like this as an appetizer instead of shrimp cocktail. I have modified the recipe only slightly to make it a bit easier and to contain less sodium. This is really fun (and delicious) to eat and is a great conversation starter when served as a party appetizer. I just felt I had to share it with all of you because it's something you may never have seen, much less tried, if I didn't write about it.


  • 3 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup Old Bay Seasoning mix
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves whole peeled garlic
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 large head cauliflower cut into 1-inch florets
  • cocktail sauce, chilled (see hints below)


Place the water in a large pot and add the seasoning mix, onion, garlic cloves, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer at a low boil for 10 minutes. Remove onions and garlic from broth with a slotted spoon and discard. Return liquid to a boil. Add cauliflower, turn off the heat, cover and let rest for 8-10 minutes. Drain at once and spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool for a few minutes on the counter. Place uncovered in the refrigerator to finish cooling. Serve with chilled cocktail sauce to dip the cauliflower florets into before popping into your mouth.

Hints: Cut the cauliflower into florets that can be easily be dipped once and then popped whole into your mouth. Test the florets for tenderness while they are in the hot water; you don't want them to be too soft, nor too hard. Usually 8-10 minutes is perfect. The cauliflower may be prepared one to two days ahead of time and covered and refrigerated until serving. It may be chilled or at room temperature, whichever you prefer. There are many varieties of cocktail sauce available in most supermarkets. Be sure to choose an oil-free variety, and feel free to spice it up a bit more by adding some horseradish and vegan Worcestershire sauce to taste.