If you ditched white rice for a healthier, lower carb, grain-free diet, try making cauliflower rice. It really is a fantastic alternative. It might sound crazy if you have not tried it, so just try it. It’s become a standard side dish at our house.
Cauliflower Rice with Parmesan and Herbs
Cauliflower is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat. It’s packed with nutrition like its cousins, cabbage, kale, and broccoli. Making it like rice is surprisingly satisfying and a smart way to reduce starchy, high-glycemic carbs in your diet. The more non-starchy vegetables we consume, the better.
Cauliflower is high in vitamins C and K, and high in phytonutrients, important plant-based chemicals. It also offers a healthy dose of potassium, fiber and folic acid. And be sure to try the orange, purple and green varieties. The colors are fun.
Choose Your Tool
To make cauliflower rice you need either a food processor with a grating blade or a box grater. If your box grater looks like it belonged to your grandmother, rusty and well used, upgrade to a new one.
My rusty box grater with a broken handle was pretty bad. I forgot that, like all sharp tools, they can lose their sharpness. I bought a new fold flat grater (in the photo above) with super sharp holes that makes grating easy, plus it saves space.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice: Box Grater
Break off the green outer leaves and wash the head of cauliflower. Using a sharp knife, trim out the core. If using a box grater, cut the head into halves or quarters. Large pieces are easier to handle when grating by hand. Grate using the large hole side of the grater. Do this on a cutting board or inside a rimmed baking sheet to catch all of the “rice”.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice: Food Processor
Insert the grating disk with the large holes. Place trimmed florets into the feed tube and grate. You can use either the large feed tube or the smaller for more control. Next, replace the grating blade with the steel knife and pulse the grated cauliflower into a finer rice. Just a few pulses will do.
Raw, grated cauliflower will keep for a few days in the refrigerator in a tightly covered container, so you can make it ahead, then cook for a quick and healthy side dish when needed.
How to Cook Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower rice cooks quickly. Heat either olive oil or coconut oil in a 3-4 quart sauté pan or 12″ fry pan. I like to add aromatics like sliced shallot or chopped leek, cook until softened, add some garlic for more flavor, then lastly add the cauliflower rice. The whole thing takes about 10 minutes.
At the end, add freshly chopped herbs for color and flavor. For this version, I added a little grated Parmesan cheese. If you eat dairy-free or are vegetarian or vegan, skip the cheese. A handful of pine nuts add crunch and a little more healthy fat and protein.
I made a big batch of this for shooting the post and had more than we could eat and discovered the leftovers were super. The cauliflower rice heated up quickly and tasted great for days. Leftovers made a nice lunch one day, along with a little extra roast chicken. Cooked shrimp wold work too, truing this into more of a main than a side.
Cauliflower Rice with Parmesan and Herbs
- 1 large head cauliflower about 1 3/4 pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or coconut oil
- 1 cup chopped leek
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
- 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese optional
- 1/3 cup pine nuts 2 ounces
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start by preparing your cauliflower. Snap off the green leaves from the head, then cut out the core with a sharp knife. If using a box grater, cut the head into quarters and grate on the large holes to create the rice.
- If using a food processor, break the head into florets. Fit a food processor with the grating blade with large holes. Push the florets though the feed tube with the processor running. After grating, replace the grating blade with the steel knife and pulse the grated cauliflower a few times to create rice.
- Heat the oil in medium (3-4 quart) sauté pan or 12″ fry pan over medium heat. When the oil it hot, add the leek and turn the heat down to medium low. Cook leek until softened, about 2-3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute more, stirring.
- Turn the heat back up to medium and add the cauliflower to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Cook cauliflower, stirring, until heated through, about 5-7 minutes. Turn the heat off, and add the parsley, Parmesan (if using) and pine nuts. Serve warm.