Cauliflower. Who doesn’t love cauliflower? Well I will admit it and I did NOT like it for a very long time. Now I would definitely rock one of those shirts you see everyone who visits NYC wearing, but instead of “I heart NYC,” mine would say “I heart cauliflower.” Cauliflower is such a super food. It is a very good source of vitamin C and manganese, which are both powerful antioxidants and reduce your risks of cardiovascular diseases and cancer. It also contains high amounts of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which help decrease inflammation. The list goes on and on. Besides being so amazing and nutritional, I heart cauliflower because it is so versatile. You can rice it, mash it, roast it, grill it, etc. The possibilities are endless.
Most of the time and especially during the week when life is hectic, I just steam cauliflower, grate/ rice it and serve it plain with my protein I am serving that evening. The reason I do this is because the cauliflower alone does not have much flavor, but when you mix it with something flavorful your “rice” will take on the flavor of your dish and it will blend right in. Don’t believe me, try and serve the cauliflower plain with this, this, or this and see for yourself. I promise you, you serve cauliflower rice and your family might not know the difference. They will think they were eating the highly processed and refined grains they are used to eating.
Having that all aid, if you have time and like to kick it up a notch I add a few ingredients and make this cauliflower rice to be a stand alone side that everyone will want more. I have a few versions and each are great in it’s own way.
For this cauliflower rice recipe my inspiration was Chipotle’s Cilantro Lime rice. Don’t get me wrong, I love my (grain) rice. Growing up, white rice and beans were a staple in my Cuban home and if it were possible I would still continue to eat rice daily but this girl is NOT getting any younger and my metabolism is SLOWING DOWN as the days tick by. So in order to combat my love for rice, I have to trick myself and make cauliflower “rice” to sneak in my veggie servings. Honestly, in the beginning I did have to trick myself but now I am so used to it and I love it. If you like cauliflower you will love this recipe, if you don’t start by pairing this side with main courses that have their own sauces as I mentioned above because it will blend in well and mask the idea that you are eating cauliflower. Trust me it is yummy. Don’t knock it till you try it.
- 1 head of fresh cauliflower (or 1 bag of frozen cauliflower)
- 3-4 garlic cloves (my policy is the more garlic, the better)
- Juice of 2 limes
- Olive oil to coat the pan
- ¼ to ½ cup of fresh chopped cilantro
- To prepare the cauliflower whether it is fresh or frozen you will need to steam it first. Depending on the size of your saucepan the amount of water you need to steam the veggie will vary. Bottomline, you will need about 2 inches of water in the pan to steam the veggies. For those of you have never steamed veggies, you want enough water that it won’t burn off/ evaporate during the steaming process (10-15 minutes) but not too much that it will take too long for the water to boil.
- Once you steam the cauliflower until soft, you will then put the cauliflower little by little in the food processor with the grater insert. You will see the cauliflower immediately start taking on the consistency and look of real “rice.” If you don’t have a grater attachment for the food processor, you can chop up the cauliflower with a knife as finally chopped as you can to resemble rice. This option of course takes more time and precision. My chopping skills with a knife is nowhere the level of those fancy chefs on TV so I just stick to the food processor. Knowing me, I would chop my finger off. Another option is just putting the steamed cauliflower in the food processor (sans grater insert) and hitting chop. If I do it this way (I call this the lazy version because if I don't have to clean the grater), you have to be cognoscente of the cauliflower and make sure it doesn't turn into mashed cauliflower. The trick is chopping it for 10-15 seconds, stopping it, take the lid off and stirring it manually moving the big cauliflower around, and then chopping it again. You repeat this process until the majority of the cauliflower is riced and not mashed. Either way you decide to chose, you now have 3 different ways to make your cauliflower rice. Again you can stop here and serve it plain or continue for a Mexican cauliflower rice version.
- Once rice is all grated/chopped/ etc, heat enough olive oil in your saute pan to coat the pan. Once the olive oil is warm, go ahead and throw in the minced garlic in the pan. Let the garlic flavor the oil for a minute or two. Next put the riced cauliflower and the lime juice in the pan. This is the best part. Stir it so the ingredients (sans cilantro) are evenly dispersed and then let it SIT. I like to pat down the cauliflower firmly to the bottom on the pan with the back of a wooden spoon so the rice gets a little crispy. After 5 minutes stir again and pat down to crisp the other side of the “rice.” This is an optional step (sometimes if I am pressed for time, I don’t crisp the rice too much) but I love love love the way the cauliflower crisps up and becomes crunchy. It really resembles rice.
- And that’s it folks, add the chopped cilantro, sprinkle with a little salt and pepper, mix and serve!
And that’s it! Sometimes I put cilantro in it if it goes with the dish (think Mexican) and sometimes I opt out. Serve this with anything you would serve with regular rice like my Crock Pot Cuban Pork Pernil or my Crock Pot Chicken Salsa.
So are you hooked yet? Haven’t I convinced you enough that cauliflower is “da bomb”? If you are not, try this version of cauliflower rice first and let me know what you think, it is my second favorite (my first is my no grain chorizo cauliflower rice).
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