Cauliflower Rice I ✠

Some dishes just demand a side of steamed white rice, and you know what they are from your own experiences and preferences. It is the usual and delectable accompaniment to almost all Asian foods and integral to much latin American fare. However, because it is very starchy (i.e., really high in carbs) and has one of the highest glycemic indices of all, it cannot be in my type II diabetic diet.

Further, there is really no substitute side dish in the lower G.I. diet that has that rich starchy flavor and soft, cohesive texture. So, what am I to eat with dishes that need a steamed rice accompaniment? Many might say, just skip it—it has very little nutritional value (other than calories), and, without additives, simply tastes bland. But the serving plate looks sort of empty without something in its place.

It would be really nice to be able to substitute a low-carb vegetable where rice would normally be called for in a meal. In addition, would be a great way to add vegetables to ones diet, if only a small sacrifice in taste and texture were to be made.

Cauliflower to the rescue! Cauliflower “rice” serves as an excellent low-calorie, gluten-free, rice substitute that also happens to be a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamins. It can be made to look like rice and taste pretty good, too, even though no one will be fooled into thinking it is really rice. Cauliflower is a versatile vegetable that I use it in a number of dishes. The challenge here is to transform this cruciferous vegetable into “rice,”.

I found that there are a raft of recipes on the internet for cauliflower rice. I have tried many of them. When eaten grated and raw in its natural state, it has a crunch and a vegetable taste. That is not bad, just not at all like rice. Cooking the grated “rice” florets in a small amount of water, like is done with rice, tends to produce a mushy product. Steaming the cauliflower whole in a basket over boiling water and then grating it is somewhat awkward and the result also tends to taste mushy (maybe I cooked them too long). Using a covered microwave-safe dish with a little water produces the easiest and cleanest white-rice substitute. Steaming it grated in a fine sieve basket above boiling water also yields great results, but is not as easy as the microwave method.

The following recipe is for basic cauliflower rice. Another, somewhat more elaborate one follows.

  • 1 cup cauliflower, riced
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • cooking spray
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

There are a number of techniques for making cauliflower rice. You can buy it already chopped in your supermarket. You can use a box grater with the proper sized holes, or you can blitz the florets with a food processor into small pieces, or you can use the old-fashioned chef’s knife and chop and chop into small pieces. However you do it, aim for little pieces the size of rice.

Once riced, remove all greens and tough stems, wash the cauliflower, and remove the excess moisture from the rice by transferring it to a large paper towel or absorbent dish towel and shake, squeeze, press, and/or wring it to remove any remaining water. This ensures no excess moisture remains, which can make your dish soggy.

Spray the bottom of a sauté pan with cooking spray, drizzle the olive oil into the pan, and bring it up to medium heat. Add the riced cauliflower and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until heated through, 3 to 5 minutes, depending on your range and your preferred al dente-ness. Remove the lid and fluff with a fork. Serve.

Serves 2.