After the success of Courgetti, a vegetable alternative to pasta that has become a regular feature of mealtimes in our house, this week I decided to try another similar alternative. Cauliflower rice – or “caulirice” – is a low calorie and gluten free alternative to rice that can be used to accompany meals wherever you would normally use rice such as chillis and curries, burritos, stir fries, fish dishes, or with slow-cooked stews.
The concept and process is incredibly simple – although a little bit messy because you’re working with a crumbly vegetable! Take one head of cauliflower, take off all the leaves (you can leave the stalks if you want to), whizz it up in the food processor or grate it (grating is particularly messy!), so you are left with a bowl of rice-sized crumbed cauliflower.
To cook you can choose very healthy or slightly healthy… To steam, put it in a bowl, cover loosely, and microwave for a couple of minutes (you don’t need to add any water, there’s plenty inside the cauliflower already and you don’t want a big mush!). To sauté, heat a little bit of oil in a pan and fry on a medium heat for around five minutes. I preferred the latter cooking option as it meant the cauliflower cooked but was still had a decent texture, and it meant I could add flavours as it cooked.
Unlike courgette in the spaghetti-alternative where you can simply sauté it on its own, cauliflower needs some help. I liken it to cous cous in that sense; it needs some additions in order to give it some proper flavour! For my caulirice I added some chives and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper (as I was serving this with some chicken in a chorizo and tomato sauce). Cauliflower does take on flavour quite well. I can see how a “special fried caulirice” would work – soy sauce, spring onion, egg, peas, prawns; I think that’s the next version to try. Then I think I might work my way through all the rice suggestions from our Indian, Chinese and Mexican takeaway menus to see which one I like best.
It’s worth noting that if you don’t like cauliflower to start with you are unlikely to enjoy caulirice, but as someone who is more than happy to eat this vegetable I enjoyed it. I was perfectly happy with this on my plate instead of rice – I had a decent portion of this light accompaniment and was as full as I would have been after a couple of tablespoons of basmati rice. You’re looking at around 150 calories or so in a whole head of cauliflower, which would serve 3-4 people as a meal accompaniment, so this is one way to be really good to yourself and avoid heavy carbs for a meal a week.
What next, then? Any other suggestions similar to courgette and caulirice? What other vegetables can I use as a carb-replacement?