Perhaps you have heard? Cauliflower is the new kale.
Or so says The Huffington Post, New York Daily News and Slate. All verifiable reliable sources when it comes to who’s on top in the vegetable world. As a certified veg-head, cauliflower has been my kale for quite a while now (proof–this January 9, 2011, blog post featuring cauliflower rice).
The almighty cruciferous head of loveliness is a vast and versatile vegetable. Mash, steam, fry, saute, roast and rice and with each preparation it can become something completely different. Cauliflower can be a vegetarian lover’s “steak” or a carnivore’s side of mashed “faux taters” (from May 19, 2010, blog post).
For those who prefer more colorful eats, look for the cool purple and orange varieties pop up at your favorite farmers market or grocery store.
What I love about the purple cauliflower is that the olive oil turns a light shade of purple while cooking.
But for those of you who seek a heartier dish, something with substance and meat (literally), this dirty cauliflower rice is the answer. Filled with a ton of vegetables to give it a boost of flavor and nutrients, the addition of ground beef or pork turns this simple side dish into a seriously delicious meal that is good + good for you. Serve it with a side salad and dinner is served.
Dirty Cauliflower Rice
The original idea of cauliflower rice was inspired four years ago by Elana Amsterdam, of Elana's Pantry. More recently, I was headed to a party and was asked to bring a side dish. The entree was a Mexican chicken dish and I thought this would pair well and give others who may be cutting out carbs a delicious option to the traditional Spanish rice we all know and love. Two people asked for the recipe that night and I have made it three times since then. It's a winner.
- olive oil for cooking, as needed
- 1/2 yellow onion diced
- 1/2 pound pastured ground pork you could easily use grass-fed ground beef
- 1 red bell pepper diced
- 1/2 onion diced
- 3 green onions sliced
- 3 stalks celery or 1 baby bok choy cored and sliced
- 1/4 pound mushroom caps sliced
- 1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt divided, plus more for seasoning while cooking
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 head cauliflower cored and cut into small florets, about 3-5 cups (depending on the size of your cauliflower)
In a large skillet, place over high heat and add olive oil. When hot, turn to medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute 2-3 minutes and then add the ground pork. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt to season. Break up the pork into small bites and cook until onions are softened and pork is no longer pink. Drain any excess oil, place pork-onion mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, add more olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, begin adding the remaining chopped onion, green onions and celery (do not add bok choy yet, if using). Toss to coat with the oil and allow to saute until softened, about 3-6 minutes. Then add the bok choy, if using, and the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes until wilted. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate. When the vegetables are done, place on a plate and set aside.
Using a food processor, add 1/3 of the cauliflower florets and pulse until the cauliflower resembles rice. Then dump the "rice" into a big bowl and repeat until all of the cauliflower is riced. There may be a few chunks leftover, but they can be pulled out and pulsed again with the next batch.
Now put some more olive oil in the skillet, place over medium-high heat and, when the oil is hot, add the rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toss well to coat and allow to saute until softened, about 8-15 minutes. Before the rice is cooked through, add the pork-onion mixture and sauteed vegetables and parsley and toss well to combine, allowing it to heat through and the flavors to meld a bit.
When well combined and hot, serve immediately. Reserve any leftovers and serve for breakfast topped with a fried pastured egg.