Cauliflower Quinoa

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.

Cauliflower Quinoa

Cauliflower Quinoa


  • 1/4 head large cauliflower
  • 1 tablespoon ghee*


  1. Break up cauliflower into florets and pulse in a food processor until it resembles little grains of rice or couscous
  2. 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
  3. 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.
  4. 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.




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