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Quick Tips for Cauliflower Rice

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Along with the rest of the world, Dave and I recently discovered cauliflower rice, and it has become something that we really enjoy eating now as a side dish with pretty much everything. It’s easy to make and the same “blank canvas” as rice to which a variety of flavors and ingredients can be added. Unlike rice, though, it’s much quicker to cook—a big reason why I like it—fewer carbs, and more nutritious.

Make cauliflower rice by chopping 1 head of cauliflower (I go for a small- or medium-sized head if it’s just the two of us) into pieces, then blitzing in a food processor until the cauliflower is about the size of corn kernels. A knife works just as well, too, if you don’t have a food processor (personally, I’ll pass on all of that chopping.) The quickest way to get cauliflower rice is, of course, to buy it pre-made. I usually don’t buy pre-chopped vegetables, but cauliflower rice is one exception. It does save time, and saving time is exactly what I had in mind the last several times I made cauliflower rice instead of regular rice as a side dish.

Cauliflower rice can be cooked either on the stovetop or by microwave. I make it on the stovetop, seasoned simply with salt and pepper. After tossing it around for a few minutes in a pan with a little olive oil or butter, it browns a little and gets nutty-tasting. I usually add a splash of vegetable broth or water, cover, and let it steam until I’m ready to eat. To make it in the microwave, I add the same ingredients to a glass or other microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and cook 3-5 minutes. After it’s done, I let it sit in the bowl so it can steam and stay hot before serving.

Either way you make it, it’s great with grilled chicken and baked fish, or to accompany a curry or stir fry. Depending on what I’m serving it with, too, here are a few ways that, just like rice, I like to add some flavor.

Starting with the base recipe as noted above:

  • Italian-style: In place of regular olive oil or butter, cook the cauliflower rice with some of the oil from 1 jar of sun dried tomatoes packed in oil. After cooking, add 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese and torn leaves of basil.
  • Mexican-style: After cooking, add 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup cooked corn kernels, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, and a squeeze of lime juice. Add jalapeño or serrano pepper that has been seeded and diced to your liking.
  • Thai-style: After cooking, add 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1/4 cup chopped roasted and salted peanuts, and a squeeze of lime juice.

As great as it is, I would be lying if I said that I gave up rice entirely after discovering cauliflower rice; this just isn’t true. When I still want the chewy texture of rice, I add an equal amount of cauliflower rice to cooked rice. (For example, a cup of uncooked rice yields about 2 cups when cooked. I’d make the rice and, after it’s cooked, add 2 cups of cooked cauliflower rice.) It’s great for the benefit of the chewiness of rice, but fewer carbs and calories, and the added bonus of veggies.

Have you tried cauliflower rice? What are your favorite ways to make it? Let me know in a comment below.

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