Move over cauliflower rice! It’s time to make way for cauliflower quinoa.
Quinoa was one of my favorite grains prior to going grain-free. Though it is more of a seed/pseudo-grain than a grain grain, it is not suitable for someone trying to heal their gut lining and so I had to part ways with my beloved quinoa. I used to make everything with it. I used it as a rice and pasta substitute in warm dishes. I used it in bulk up salads while adding a non-meat complete protein. I even used to add it to oatmeal with some fresh fruit and cinnamon for breakfast.
Fortunately, a recipe flop led me to realize that I could mimic the look and feel of quinoa using cauliflower, by taking cauliflower rice 1 step further and slightly burning it. I know burning your food doesn’t typically lead to a recipe success, but in this case it did. One of the first recipes I posted was for an Iranian stew with cauliflower rice and one reader commented and gave me the wonderful idea of trying to make Iranian tadig (crunchy rice) using cauliflower. I wanted to think positively so I gave it a crack, ricing the cauliflower and then adding it to a pan full of hot ghee and leaving it to cook and hopefully come together like a crunchy piece of tadig. When my many attempts were unsuccessful, I decided to save my now brown-looking cauliflower rice in the fridge to eat with something else because I really hate wasting food.
The next day I pulled out the burnt cauliflower concoction and noticed that it smelled really delicious. So I took a bite cold and realized that not only was it delicious, but it resembled quinoa in both taste and texture. Because it was cold it had a slightly crunchy texture and the flavors of the ghee and the light burn gave it an almost nutty flavor like quinoa. I quickly made another batch fresh to make sure it would turn out just as delicious warm and it did. And so, we have my new favorite cauliflower dish– cauliflower quinoa.
- 1/4 head large cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon ghee*
- Break up cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until it resembles little grains of rice or couscous
- Heat the ghee over medium heat and then add the cauliflower and use the back of a spoon to spread it out into a fairly thin layer, about 1/4 inch thick
- Allow to cook like that for 8-10 minutes, or until cauliflower becomes a nice golden brown. You can check this by stirring a small portion of the cauliflower to check the color on the bottom granules.
- Once bottom granules have browned, give the whole pan a stir and allow to cook another 5 minutes or so, stirring frequently. You want most of the granules to have a nice brown hue, but not to taste burnt.
*This tastes the best with either butter or ghee, but could be made with coconut oil or other stable fat, though coconut oil will impart a fairly strong coconut flavor. AIP followers can try expeller pressed coconut oil, to minimize the coconut flavor of virgin coconut oil, or avocado oil.