One thing I’ll take away from the Paleo challenge is a more positive attitude towards cauliflower. It may not be dramatic and life changing, but I’d say it’s a step in the right direction.
I mentioned cauliflower early on in the challenge, and I’ve made it a few times since then. The funny thing is, for as long as I can remember, I haven’t liked cauliflower at all. Bland, white and not a lot of flavor. What’s to get enthusiastic about? Why even bother with it at all? Sure it’s crunchy, but if you’re looking for crunch, I think broccoli is a much better choice. It’s more nutritious too.
When I was younger, I can remember my Mom serving steamed cauliflower on occasion. My favorite part was, undoubtedly, not the vegetable but the cheese sauce we’d pour, copiously, over top. Cheese sauce was the only reason to eat the cauliflower, really.
But when grains are out of the question cauliflower muscled its way onto my plate, and is no longer the side-vegetable-made-edible-only-with-cheese-sauce. I think it’s because cauliflower is similar to chicken or eggplant, which happily take on other flavors you’re cooking with. Even some sauteed onion and garlic give a simple but much-needed boost to cauliflower’s appeal, like they do in cauliflower rice.
The last time I set out to make some cauliflower rice, instead of chopping the cauliflower into small florets before they went into the food processor, I thought I’d take a shortcut by leaving the pieces fairly large. Seems logical enough (well, it did at the time), but I had to keep pulsing more and more to get the bigger chunks down to a rice-like size. Before I knew it, the cauliflower went from long grain to short grain, and then to something even smaller. Yikes!
Not exactly a kitchen disaster, though. Instead of cauliflower rice, we ended up with cauliflower couscous. Smaller, but just as good as the rice and a great base for the stir-fry here. Cauliflower in a whole new light. Very positive, indeed.
Here is a very basic version of a Paleo staple that works well as a base for stir-frys and pastas. For a finer-grained result -- more like 'couscous' than 'rice' -- simply pulse it longer in the food processor.
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into equally-sized small florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small white onion, minced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Place the cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse until they resemble rice. If you're aiming for a smaller texture like couscous, pulse a few more times.
- Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-low heat. Add the onion and saute for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it cooks evenly. Add the garlic and saute for another few minutes, stirring occasionally. You're aiming to get an even, light golden color and a softened texture. Turn the heat down if the onions and garlic start to brown too much.
- Once the onions and garlic have softened, add the cauliflower and stir in to incorporate. Continue sauteeing for 5-8 minutes, or until the rice (couscous) is a little softened but still has some crunch, like an 'al dente' texture with pasta.