To be honest, I was skeptical of cauliflower rice. How could blitzed raw cauliflower, warmed in a skillet, taste anywhere near as satisfying as fluffy, steaming rice? It can’t. The inevitable truth is that cauliflower rice needs some help from other flavors to send me back for seconds.
This is cauliflower rice kicked up several notches by some of my favorite Mediterranean ingredients. Fresh parsley, lemon, garlic, toasted almonds and red pepper flakes make this cauliflower rice an irresistible side dish. It tastes like rice pilaf crossed with tabbouleh, if you will. It is delicious.
I first made this cauliflower rice as a side dish for some leftovers, but it turned into dinner when I couldn’t stop going back for more. To be certain that the recipe was blog-worthy, I made the rice again for my skeptical taste testers.
Their response? “You know, this is really good. Like, really good. Why is this so good?” That’s when I threw my fists in the air and started making slow victory laps around the kitchen island.
You could make this low-carb cauliflower rice to round out a light meal, or to lighten up an otherwise heavy dinner. It will go well with any recipe that is loosely Mediterranean in flavor, especially with dishes that contain lemon and fresh herbs. Serve this recipe when a green salad won’t cut it!
Cauliflower Rice Notes & Tips
The key to making great cauliflower rice is to wring excess moisture from the cauliflower rice before cooking. That way, the “rice” can caramelize in places and yield major flavor bonus points. Otherwise, the rice just steams in the pan, and we all know how compelling plain steamed vegetables are (heh).
The best way to make cauliflower rice is in a food processor with the S-blade. I tried making the cauliflower rice a few different ways—grated by hand, then in the food processor with the grating attachment, and again in the food processor with the S-blade. I’m sure there’s some moisture variability from cauliflower to cauliflower, but I was able to squeeze out the most moisture from the cauliflower rice that I made with the S-blade.
Buy store-bought cauliflower rice to make this recipe quicker, with less mess. Fair warning: No matter how I grated the cauliflower, I made a mess. I was underwhelmed by the bagged cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s produce section, though—it was not as fresh-tasting as my homemade rice, and I couldn’t squeeze much moisture out of it (perhaps it dries out in the bag?). You might have better luck with frozen cauliflower rice, but I haven’t had a chance to try it yet.
Stovetop-cooked cauliflower rice tastes better than roasted cauliflower rice. I tried roasting the cauliflower rice in the oven, and I didn’t love the results. By the time the rice was golden, it had lost a ton of volume and offered a strangely spongey texture. The stovetop rice was tastier, fluffier, and ready sooner!
As always, please let me know how you like this recipe in the comments section. If you’re a cauliflower rice connoisseur, please share your tips with me, too!
Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 4 side servings
- Category: Side Dish
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
This cauliflower rice recipe features fresh Mediterranean flavors, including toasted almonds, lemon and parsley. It’s the perfect light side dish! It’s low carb, vegan and gluten free, too. Recipe yields 4 modest side servings.
- 1 medium-to-large head cauliflower or 16 ounces store-bought cauliflower rice
- ½ cup sliced almonds
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- Pinch of red pepper flakes (omit if sensitive to spice)
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- If you’re working with a head of cauliflower, cut it into medium chunks (see photo) and discard the core. Working in batches, pulse the chunks in a food processor with the S-blade until they’re broken into tiny pieces, just bigger than couscous. (See recipe notes if you don’t have a food processor.)
- Wrap the cauliflower rice in a clean tea towels or paper towels, twist, and squeeze as much water as possible from the rice—you might be surprised by how much water you can wring out.
- Toast the almonds in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently (careful, or they’ll burn), until they’re fragrant and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer the toasted almonds to a bowl to cool.
- Return the skillet to the heat and add the olive oil and garlic. Cook while stirring until the garlic is fragrant, about 10 to 20 seconds. Add the cauliflower rice, red pepper flakes and salt, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring just every minute or so, until the cauliflower rice is hot and turning golden in places, about 6 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the toasted almonds, parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.
Make it nut free: Substitute raw sunflower seeds for the almonds.
If you don’t have a food processor: Slice the cauliflower into even quarters and grate the cauliflower on the medium holes of a grater. Grate one quarter at a time, then repeat with the remaining quarters.