Original Red Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Upon my arrival in Lafayette, I relaxed into the familiar embrace of South Louisiana humidity. In less than 30 miles I was transported to a world unchanged by mixed use zoning and familiar neon signs. I passed through the gate house and onto Avery Island. Past swamps and marshes teaming with wildlife, the terrain began to roll and I was silenced by the beauty of time worn live oak trees draped with Spanish moss.

The  charm of Avery Island is only eclipsed by the story she has to tell. As a participant in the Tabasco Tastemakers Summit, I was immersed into the rich and at times, mysterious history of Tabasco Sauce and the early McIlhenny family. Petite Anse Island, owned by the Avery family was first and foremost, a sugar plantation. A New Orleans banker, Edmund McIlhenny married Mary Eliza Avery in 1859. Soon thereafter, they moved back to the Island and started a family. Around this time, solid rock salt was discovered 16 feet beneath the surface of  Avery Island. (Avery Island is one of five salt domes on the South Louisiana Coast) This event forever altered the course of  history for the Island and the Avery/McIlhenny families.

With the salt supply cut off by the Union Blockade, Avery Island supplied the Confederacy with much needed salt (as many as 500 teams of horses entered the Island daily) during the height of the Civil War. The Avery/McIlhenny families retreated to Texas shortly before the Union captured Avery Island. Post Civil War, the Avery/McIlhennys returned to the Island. Mary Eliza’s Father, Judge Avery still had his salt mine and sugar cane fields. Edmund McIlhenny returned to the Island as an unemployed banker with time on his hands. He retreated to the family vegetable garden to gather his thoughts.

It is unclear exactly where/when/from whom Edmund procured the Tabasco pepper seeds. It is undisputed that Edmund and his peppers made their way into the family garden. Edmund McIlhenny created what is now known as Original Red Tabasco Sauce with Tabasco peppers, Avery Island salt and vinegar. Original Red continues today to be made with seeds from Tabasco peppers grown on Avery Island, vinegar and Avery Island Salt.


During the Tastemakers Summit we were treated to a tour of the Tabasco Greenhouses. Each January, carefully selected pepper seeds are planted in the greenhouses. The seedlings are transplanted to the Avery Island fields in April. The most desirable plants are harvested in August. They become part of the heirloom seed stock that is supplied to Tabasco growers throughout Latin America and Africa.

tabasco_barrels_1 tabasco_barrels_2
Newly harvested peppers are crushed in their own juices and mixed with a little Avery Island salt. The mash put in white oak barrels and labeled with the country of origin. The barrels are stacked in warehouses where they ferment and age for three years.


Newer Mash tastes fruity and slightly acrid. At the end of the three years the mash has tranfsormed into an oaky, complex and of course, hot tasting paste. The aged barrels make their way to the factory floor where each barrel is opened, identified as to its country of origin and examined.
Tabasco President, Tony Simmons, examines the mash on the factory floor. The aged mash is mixed with special premium vinegar, stirred for a month and then strained.
tabasco_charts and bottlesThe Tabasco sauce is poured into familiar slim bottles with red caps, green foil neckbands and diamond-shaped labels. Tabasco Products are shipped to 166 countries all over the world. The following recipe is a summer salad flavored with the original red Tabasco sauce.

Original Red Roasted Cauliflower Salad brings the big bold flavors of Tailgating to a grilled vegetable salad. Cauliflower is tossed in an Original Red Tabasco and lemon laced sauce and oven roasted. The Red Tabasco heat dissipates during the roasting and permeates the cauliflower with complex pepper flavor. After roasting, the cauliflower is mixed with garden fresh red grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, scallions and chunks of blue cheese. Red Roasted Cauliflower Salad is finished with a bright sun dried tomato and Red Tabasco Dressing. Great served at room temperature for family barbeques, Original Red Roasted Cauliflower Salad is equally delicious served cold as a side dish for late summer Tailgating.
Original Red Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Serves 8

For The Salad:

10 cups bite sized cauliflower pieces (about 2 medium heads)

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tablespoon Original Red Tabasco Sauce

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire  sauce

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups halved red grape tomatoes

1 1/2 cups chopped red bell pepper

6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled

1/3 cup chopped scallions

For The Dressing:

1/3 cup drained, oil packed sun dried tomatoes

1/4 cup orange juice

3 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

2 Tablespoons Ketchup

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon chopped garlic

1 teaspoon Original Red Tabasco Sauce

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl add the cauliflower, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon of Original Red Tabasco, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce  and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss until all ingredients are well mixed. Empty the cauliflower on to a large baking sheet. Roast the cauliflower in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is crisp tender. Remove the cauliflower from the oven. Set aside.
2.To make the dressing, put the sun dried tomatoes, orange juice, 3 tablespoons olive oil, vinegar, ketchup, 1 tablespoon. lemon juice, garlic 1 teaspoon Original Red Tabasco, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce into the work bowl of a food processor. Process until the ingredients are well blended. Set dressing aside.

3. Put the roasted cauliflower into a large bowl. Add the grape tomatoes, red bell pepper, blue cheese and scallions. Pour the dressing over the vegetables. Toss the salad with the dressing until well mixed. Serve the salad immediately or chill and serve cold.

Recipe and Tabasco Plant Pictures ©Sally James Mathis

Recipe photography ©Taylor Mathis


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  1. Terri says

    Enjoyed the Tabasco story and hope to try the salad soon , as I really like cauliflower. Thanks for both.

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