I wasn’t gung-ho on the whole ‘cauliflower-as-rice’ thing for two reasons:
- I question the validity of one food substituting for another on looks alone. Don’t try to fool me. Just because it’s white like white rice, and can be chopped, grated, or food-processed into rice-like pieces, doesn’t mean it’s going to taste like rice or even ‘act’ like rice any more than spaghetti squash tastes like good semolina CARB-LADEN pasta.
- Being not much of a cauliflower fan – unless it’s drenched in cheese sauce – I‘m not very often inclined to embark on new or old ways with cauliflower.
So it was with hesitation and much negativity that I gave this a go, and it had everything to do with gaining the knowledge that a serving of rice is just one-half of a measly cup and that stinkin’ little amount alone has about 23 net grams of carbohydrates. Eeee-gads. Even brown rice: still only a half of a cup for a serving and a net carb count of 21 grams.
I figured I could combine the cauliflower rice with some regular brown rice and the cauliflower flavor would be dissipated enough to be hardly noticeable, and it would stretch the rice into the serving size I’ve grown accustomed to, which clearly has been at least two full servings, if not three. You can eat a whole head of cauliflower for less than 150 calories and 16 net grams of carbs, along with 11 grams of protein. Damn, that’s a good nutritional value food. Too bad it tastes like cauliflower. Annnd, one medium cauliflower head is about five or six cups, chopped. Six cups of brown rice would be more like 1200 calories and more carbs than I should eat all day.
I wanted to like it. And so I did. If you like cauliflower, this is kind of a no-brainer, and if you don’t like cauliflower I think you’ll find it surprisingly okay. Yes, I said ‘surprisingly okay’. I’m not going to jump up and down and say it tastes just like rice and you’ll never hit the bulk bins again and that when you think ‘rice’, you’ll envision white brain-like globes of cauliflower. I’m saying that if you, like me, are trying to make healthier food choices, and need to count carbs for health reasons, cauliflower rice is a very good thing to have in your arsenal.
I planned to combine it with brown rice, half and half, but did not. Yes, that’s right: I went cold turkey with just cauliflower rice and I had it with vegan Larb, and it was very good. In fact, it did not taste very much like cauliflower at all. I think it was the sautéing method that accomplished that. I haven’t tried it any other way, but I tend to think that raw or just heated in the microwave, it would retain more of its cauliflower flavor, which is, in my cauliflower-loathing opinion, inedible.
I didn’t put it in the food processor, but you can chop it down to size that way; just be careful to not over-process and get yourself cauliflower mush. I grated mine on a box grater because I’d rather wash a dirty box grater any day over a food processor. Then I threw it in a pan with a little olive oil and sautéed it for a just a few minutes, and blingged it up with some chopped cilantro and the zest of a lime and some if its juice. It was kind of amazing, when I think of it, because I ate cauliflower and I liked it and I don’t believe that’s ever happened before. Can the all-the-rage cauliflower steaks be far behind?
A couple of notes: I used less than a tablespoon of oil for sautéing. You’re really trying to get rid of the moisture in the cauliflower, so the less oil the better. I did however, figure the nutrition analysis with one tablespoon. Ditto for the lime juice. I used all of the zest of the lime, but probably only one squeeze of lime juice over it all, but the nutrition analysis is for an entire lime.
- 1 medium head Cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
- 1 lime (zest and juice)
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
Grate the cauliflower with a box grater. Alternatively, chop very finely - rice-like finely - with a knife. It can also be processed in a food processor, just be sure to do it in small batches and short spurts of processing, so the cauliflower is just finely chopped but not mushy.
Warm the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the cauliflower and sprinkle with a bit of salt and cook until the cauliflower is tender and slightly toasted. Bits of it should get a little toasty brown. It won’t take more than five or six minutes, and I would stay right there and stir it every little bit.
Remove from heat and add the zest of one lime and squeeze a bit of the juice of the lime over the cauliflower. Add the cilantro and lightly mix it all together.
Voila! Rice, right?
The nutrition analysis is for a head of cauliflower that weighed about 580 grams after the core part was removed, and measured to almost six cups when grated.
You can freeze the cauliflower rice either before you toast it, or after. Either way, I would re-toast it.
Nutrition Info: Calories: 71 Calories from fat: 31 Total fat: 4g Sat fat: 0g Trans fat: 0g Cholesterol: 0g
Sodium: 44mg Total Carb: 9g Fiber: 4g Sugars: 4g Protein: 3g Net Carbs: 5g