Mollie and I aren't big chain restaurant fans, but our guilty pleasure is The Cheesecake Factory. Mollie loves the Skinnylicious Soft Tacos, which are served with Escabeche Vegetable Salad. The Escabeche Vegetable Salad is our favorite part of the entree, despite the fact that it's nothing more than some lightly pickled vegetables tossed in a bowl. The crunchy, tangy veggies pair perfectly with the spicy Mexican flavors in the tacos. This Escabeche Vegetable Salad is a Cheesecake Factory copycat, made at home in a few minutes with no cooking time. It's loaded with cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and peppers, and tastes great as a fresh, healthy side to any meal.
What is escabeche?
Escabeche is popular in Spanish, Portuguese, Filipino, and Latin American cuisines, and (at a baseline) involves marinating vegetables, meat, or fish in oil, vinegar, and spices. In this recipe, we marinate vegetables (rather than meat or fish) in oil, vinegar, and some other ingredients to achieve a quick pickled effect. Some recipes call for cooking the vegetables prior to adding them to the marinade, but we like the crunch of raw veggies, so we've chosen not to cook ours ahead of time. The marinade breaks the veggies down a bit, so they're not quite as crunchy as they are pre-marinade. The added benefit? You don't have to cook anything.
Your escabeche salad shopping list:
- Mini cucumbers. We like mini cucumbers because the slices come out perfectly bite-sized, but you can use regular cucumbers if you prefer--just cut the slices into halves or fourths.
- Carrot. Regular sized carrots work best, but you can use whatever you prefer.
- Cauliflower florets
- Shredded cabbage. We use white cabbage, but red works too.
- Serrano or jalapeño pepper (optional). Serrano peppers are hotter than jalapeños, so choose which pepper you use based on your heat tolerance (and availability). This is optional, but it does add a lot of flavor to the marinade. If you don't like hot stuff you can also leave the peppers out, but my recommendation would be to put them in during the marination process and remove them prior to serving.
- Marinade/dressing ingredients: white vinegar, olive oil, honey, dijon mustard, black pepper, and salt
- Large mason jar (64 ounces/half-gallon) or bowl with a lid
Here's how you make this salad.
This escabeche vegetable salad is essentially quick pickled cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower, cabbage, and peppers in a tangy dressing. It comes together quickly and without any cooking time.
- Make the marinade/dressing.
Combine white vinegar, honey, olive oil, dijon mustard, black pepper, and salt in a mason jar or bowl with a lid and shake or whisk to combine.
- Add the vegetables.
Add the cucumbers, carrots, cauliflower florets, cabbage, and peppers to the jar or bowl with the dressing and shake (or mix) to combine everything. The vegetables should be mostly submerged in the dressing.
- Refrigerate and serve.
Refrigerate the vegetable and dressing mixture for at least 2 hours, and up to 48 hours. The longer it marinates, the more pickled the vegetables taste. Serve in a bowl alongside tacos, chicken, shrimp, or anything else that sounds tasty to you!
Need some recipes to serve this escabeche salad with?
- Blackened Mahi-Mahi Tacos with Peach Pico de Gallo and Cilantro Lime Sauce
- Mexican Black Beans
- Skinny Orange Grapefruit Margarita (with Mocktail Option)
Escabeche Vegetable Salad: FAQs
We don't! We prefer slightly crunchy vegetables, so we leave ours raw. If you'd prefer to cook yours first, boil them until they reach your desired level of done-ness, and then follow the directions as written.
Absolutely! This would also be great with bell peppers, radishes, okra, onions, or whatever other vegetables you generally like pickled.
Yes! The longer it sits, the more pickled the vegetables taste, and the more flavor the dressing gets. I don't like to let it sit longer than 48 hours, though, because the vegetables start to lose their crunch. 24 hours is the sweet spot, in my opinion.