One of my favorite things about cooking with veggies is that they are often more than they appear. Kale can become chips, leafy greens can swap in for bread, squash can become the base for pizza crust, and perhaps my most favorite of all: cauliflower can become rice.
Cauliflower has shown up on this blog in a few ways in past: Cauliflower Mac and Cheese, Cauliflower Pizza Crust, and as the unusual roasted filling in these Chard Tacos. Because my relationship with rice is hit or miss, and I often don’t love it as much as I think I will (far preferring buckwheat and quinoa as grain options), I love using this flavor-sponge of a veggie as an easy stand-in for rice.
Where rice and potatoes lack in nutrients – being that they are largely simple starches that spike blood sugar, increase cravings and leave us more hungry than we were to begin with – cauliflower’s high fiber content and impressive nutrient profile - a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K and folate, in particular - makes it a wonderful nutritious substitute that make for a more filling, more satisfying meal. Plus, you’re doing something excellent for your gut: again, where white rice and potatoes tend to be sticky and binding inside the body, cauliflower’s rough fiber moves through the GI tract, scrubbing and moving things along.
The best part? It’s often less time-consuming to make than rice… or even potatoes. No waiting for science to make rice hot for 40 minutes, or peeling endless potatoes to make a mash. Simply chop up your cauliflower, pulse it a few times in the food processor, and transfer to a bowl until you’re ready to cook it.
[While you could steam it for a minute or two to soften it, you don’t want it too mushy… that’s when cauliflower becomes excellent mashed ‘potatoes’.) In this recipe’s case, you only need to cook it once.]
I used a few simple spices and coconut oil to sautee this up, using it as a side dish for the Carrot Falafel from the Choosing Raw cookbook.
Heat the oil until glistening over medium heat, then throw in your onions and garlic, cooking until they’re aromatic and softened. Then add your raw cauliflower, stirring to coat in oil and onions.
Add spices and sautee a few minutes longer, until everything is evenly combined and heated through.
This side takes about 8 minutes, all told, including the clean up of the little bits of cauliflower that will invariably end up all over your kitchen. ;) We are lucky to have a small dog who is more than willing to tidy up for us. If you’re without a small plant-eating creature, use a damp towel to easily blot up the bits.
Another idea: vary up your spices to recreate this dish to accompany any entrée. Use it in vegan sushi, to accompany a stir-fry (check out these Chinese-inspired spice combos here), alongside a curry (using these Indian spices here), or with a savory dish like baked tofu and mushroom gravy (check out these savory spices here).
- 2 cups cauliflower, roughly chopped into 2" pieces
- half an onion
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 2 pinches sumac
- coconut oil or olive oil
- salt to taste
- Pulse cauliflower a few times in the food processor until 'rice-like' and transfer to a bowl until you’re ready to cook it.
- Heat the oil until glistening over medium heat, then throw in your onions and garlic, cooking until they’re aromatic and softened. Then add your raw cauliflower, stirring to coat in oil and onions.
- Add spices and sautee a few minutes longer, until everything is evenly combined and heated through.