Monday, July 3, 2017

Recipe: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice

PLEASE PARDON THE CRAPPY PHONE PHOTOS! My memory card literally disintegrated in my hands, so all the pretty photos I'd taken with the good camera are lost. *sob* I didn't want to leave you without a post, though, so here's the recipe post. I'll have better photos up soon!



As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been trying to keep the food creative juices flowing by making small, comforting meals as I continue to heal. Nothing too elaborate, since it was hard to cook anything at all while I was without the use of my right hand, and because I still can’t use my stove or oven; but enough to make a good meal and some leftovers.


Now that I can cut and chop things again, I’ve been having more fun. It’s also summertime, so the best herbs and ingredients are all over the place, and it’s just hard to resist playing food math and coming up with fun new dishes. You all know my passion for one-dish meals, but lately I’ve been serving them “deconstructed” style, with every component in a separate little section to make a lovely (and, let’s be honest, totally Instagrammable) Hearty Bowl.

I posted this particular one – Shrimp, Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, Pineapple-Peach Salsa, and Avocado Hearty Bowl – last weekend, and the response on both Facebook and Instagram was so overwhelming, it made me come out of my little shell. Granted, you’re all pretty generous with the love no matter what I post, but this one? Holy Hannah! That was some rabid recipe requesting there.  ;)

I was going to post about the whole dish, and still plan to, but A) My weekend was a bit too full to get it all done, and B) what most of you really wanted was to learn about this cauliflower rice. (The salsa was a close second, but I’ll address that when I post the full Hearty Bowl recipe.) Plus, this makes such a great, versatile side dish for any Mexican or southwest inspired meal you may make in the future, that I couldn’t just have it buried in a more complex post. This is one for you to bookmark for sure.

As usual, the beauty of it is in its simplicity. I’m pretty sure you’re all aware of the cauliflower-replacing-most-carbs trend these days, and it’s for a good reason. Once you break that cruciferous powerhouse down, it’s like a total shape shifter, taking on any incarnation and flavor you can imagine. And since it’s so low in calories and carbohydrates, it’s become a popular substitution for rice, potatoes, and other starchier carbs, especially for those watching their calories and sugar intake.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I have yet to make any cauliflower product myself, aside from some thick roasted cauliflower steaks (because OMG, why wouldn’t you? Roasted cauliflower is SO good). I will get to this at some point and let you know what recipes I’ve found to be the best, but for now, the grocery store provideth.

You do have to do some careful shopping with this, though, as anything that is more convenient can come at a higher cost. Trader Joe’s, of course, would be my go-to, as they have cauliflower rice for $1.99/lb and cauliflower pizza crusts that I have yet to try (although I hear they’re incredible). Since it’s been hard for me to make it out to my food mecca, I’ve been happy with the selection I’ve found at my local Walmart Neighborhood Market and/or Target. You can find small bags of riced cauliflower for about $2.50, and because we’re all good PGEW students and would never just serve that on its own, but try to make a bigger yield dish from it, that little bit does go a long way.

I usually just stick to making some fried “rice” with it, but on that sweltering Sunday night, I wanted something lighter. But I didn’t want a salad; I wanted an actual meal. So, I set about putting things together, mainly the shrimp, the salsa and the avocado. I didn’t have any greens to turn all this into a salad, and I didn’t want to wait for a batch of quinoa to cook (I know, right?!), so I opted for the cauliflower rice. But it was just so sad and bland looking, that I had to do something awesome with it. And cilantro-lime “rice” seemed the perfect accompaniment for the rest of my dish.

There’s nothing to this, really. Just put some cilantro and other tasty things into a blender and mix it into the rice. But it kicks up plain ol’ cauliflower rice about 16 notches, and is SO. VERSATILE. that I’m sad I didn’t do this sooner.

This makes a sensational side dish, can be used as a base for a fun rice salad, and you can even toss it into your burritos, if you’re the type that likes rice in your burritos. Basically, anywhere you’d use cilantro-lime rice, you can substitute this and have delicious, low-carb results.

What will you serve yours with when you make it? Tell me in the comments below! For now, let’s check out the recipe.

Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice (makes 2 servings)

Be sure to add the lime at the very end, lest you end up with a bitter flavor from cooked lime juice. If you’re like me and enjoy really tart, lime-flavored things, feel free to add a couple more teaspoons of juice; otherwise, this seems to be the best ratio so you can still taste the cilantro. 

Ingredients:
1 medium bunch of cilantro (the whole thing, leaves and stems!)
2-3 peeled cloves of garlic
3 T water
½-1 t salt
1 T olive oil
¼ c diced yellow onion
2 c riced cauliflower
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice

Directions:
1. Rinse and pat dry the cilantro. Chop roughly and place into a food processor or blender with the garlic and water. Blend until the mixture is a nice puree, but not entirely smooth (you’ll still want to see tiny flecks of leaves). Set aside.

2. In a large pan or skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the diced onion and cook over medium heat until fragrant. Next, add the riced cauliflower. Cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add the cilantro puree and mix well, so that all the rice is coated. Remove from heat.

3. Pour the lime juice into the rice and mix well. Taste for seasonings and adjust accordingly with more salt, pepper, or even lime juice (if you’re like me and like lime things to be really lime-y). Serve with grilled chicken, shrimp, or fish as a tasty, low-carb side, or use it in any southwest or Mexican inspired Hearty Bowls, and enjoy!

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