Home Cooking In the Kitchen In the Kitchen: Reinventing cauliflower

In the Kitchen: Reinventing cauliflower

If asked, most people would say they crave things like chocolate or a good steak but lately all I’ve wanted to eat is vegetables. Call me crazy but they have been on my mind and on my palate.

With that said, while surfing around on social media I came across a recipe for cauliflower rice and I knew this was something I just had to try. Sounds interesting right? Well the catch is that you could eat a whole two cups of this stuff and you will only be consuming close to the calories in a little half cup of cooked white rice. Starting to sound even more appealing, right? This stuff was a hit.

When I first saw the words cauliflower and rice together I pictured these little pellet shaped cauliflower pieces that looked and felt like rice but tasted like cauliflower. Wrong. In a good way wrong, the texture is a cross between couscous and rice. Maybe a better way to describe the texture would be to say it’s as if I took cooked rice and pulsed it a few times in the food processor. For a whole day I just kept thinking over and over about what cauliflower rice was going to be like.

Okay, here comes the icing on the cake. It is the simplest thing I’ve ever made. You would think you would have to do some pretty crazy things to reinvent cauliflower. I’m not lying when I tell you a head of cauliflower just pretty much blew me away. In about two easy steps you’ve got yourself a new side dish that anyone will love, I think even the kids could be fooled by this one.

I did in fact discover one thing about this new dish that only comes along with trial and error. To go with my cauliflower rice I made an orange chicken stir fry. Now don’t get me wrong that stir fry was good too but the family and I unanimously voted that the new cauliflower rice would be better off with a more savory dish not something so sweet as oranges; which of course brought us to reminiscing about some good dishes we’ve had. All I continue to think about is the array of feasts that could go along with this cauliflower rice, the roasted lamb we had on Christmas or the beef stew we all love or even with the baked salmon we always like to have.

I think I’m still in awe over the fact that I just put chicken stir fry over cauliflower rice. Ultimately I think I could give up white rice. Alright maybe not give up white rice but perhaps just eat cauliflower more often. The point here isn’t to get you to throw out your box of Uncle Ben’s but to reinvent what you’re eating. Being in the kitchen should allow you to open your mind and your stomach. Eating the right amount of vegetables can be hard or even unpleasing to some but if you step into your kitchen with a smile and let your creative juices flow, your vegetables will begin to feel your good aura and that can only lead to one thing, good food.

Shown here is my recipe for cauliflower rice. I prefer to sauté the cauliflower in a good oil to help bring out the toasty nutty flavor but you can also steam your cauliflower to cut out the oil. Just replace the oil with a few tablespoons of water and let it steam until you’ve reached a desired softness. Don’t over-steam or add to much water, otherwise the cauliflower will become a mushy mess. Also if you’re looking to spice things up you can add things such as garlic, herbs or spices to the cauliflower.

Cauliflower Rice
Serves 4-5
1 large head of cauliflower
2 tablespoons of good olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

• Cut the head of cauliflower into good sized pieces, removing the core and outer leaves. Wash the cauliflower and let dry. Pat with paper towel to speed up this process, removing as much moisture as possible.
• Set up the food processor with the basic processor blade used for pulsing. If you do not have a food processor you can use a box grater, use the larger grate size for a better form (this can take some arm work but it is well worth it.) Using your hands break some of the cut cauliflower pieces into the bowl of the food processor. Working in batches, give the cauliflower about 5 good pulses. The cauliflower will begin to look like crumbs. After all of the cauliflower is pulsed, set aside.

 • Heat a medium to large skillet on medium high heat and add about a tablespoon of the olive oil to coat the pan. If you started with a large head of cauliflower, do this step in batches so the cauliflower will get a nice golden brown. Put the cauliflower in the skillet and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite dish or eat on its own. 

Kayleigh Van Vliet Baig
Kayleigh is a sous chef at the Meadow Club in Southampton. A Riverhead native, she is married and the mother of a daughter born in December 2016. Email Kayleigh