Cauliflower rice has been storming food blogs and IG feeds since 2013 or so, but, late-adopter that I am, I just got around to making it for the first time last night. My personal view is: if I want rice, I’ll make and eat rice; and if I’m in the mood for cauliflower, I’ll cook and eat cauliflower (especially roasted, oh my). I’m not a fan of foods pretending to be other foods. It just seems silly to me. I’m also not big on food rules, labels, or fads. So just the fact that Trader Joe’s has had to place a limit on the number of bags of frozen cauli-rice each customer is allowed to buy, because the caulk-rice fans were arriving on the day the shipments came in and buying up entire boxes of 30 or 40 bags, pretty much made me want to stay away from cauli-rice with a ten-foot pole.
For the last couple of weeks, though, the hubs and I have been trying to have less carb-y meals in the evening. This started somewhat by accident, with a couple of suppers that happened to be lighter in the carbo department, but when we discovered that we felt better overall having made just this one simple change, we became more intentional about it. Thus it seemed a fortuitous time to blitz a head of cauliflower in the food processor and call it rice.
With a plethora of limes in the fruit bowl, half a bunch of cilantro in the crisper and a handful of shredded coconut leftover from baking, I decided to take this batch of cauli-rice in a tropical direction. I sautéed some chopped garlic in coconut oil and added the riced cauliflower for a quick saute followed by a 5-minute steam. Then I added grated lime zest, chopped cilantro, and toasted coconut, gave it a quick toss, and topped it with more toasted coconut and some fresh chives.
And I have to admit, this dish has made a cauli-ricing convert out of me. Cauliflower is neutral enough in flavor to carry other flavors like a grain would, and I like that I don’t feel stuffed after I eat it, like I sometimes do with rice or other grains that expand quite a bit in the stomach. It’s a perfect pairing alongside pretty much any protein you can think of, and the “grains” absorb liquid so it’s a great side for a saucy main, like curry or a tomato sauce. This first time around I topped my cauli rice with seared coriander-crusted scallops; delicious! Next time I’m thinking coconut curried chicken or vegetables.
Cilantro-lime cauliflower rice with toasted coconut
Adapted from Pamela Salzman
Gluten-free, Grain-free, Vegan
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 head cauliflower (about 1-1/4 pounds), cored and cut into large florets
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
grated zest of 1 lime (about 2 teaspoons)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted (divided)
2 tablespoons sliced fresh chives (optional, for garnish)
lime wedges, for serving
Place cauliflower florets in a food processor. Process with quick, short pulses 15 to 20 times until it resembles the texture of rice.
Heat coconut oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add cauliflower and 3/4 teaspoon salt to skillet. Saute for a couple of minutes, then cover and steam on low for 5 to 8 minutes, to your desired tenderness.
Turn off heat and stir in lime zest, cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the toasted coconut. Taste and add more salt if needed. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with remaining coconut and chives. Serve with lime wedges.