The Cauliflower ‘Fried Rice’ recipe below and a version of the article first appeared on Our Lady of Second Helpings in October of 2012. I felt like it could use a bit of sprucing up and a second moment in the spotlight!
In the interest of full disclosure: Cauliflower Fried Rice isn’t fried and there is no rice. (So much for truth in advertising!) However, once complete, this dish has the fluffy texture and flavor of the familiar take-out staple.
Five years ago, if you asked me to name a versatile vegetable I probably would have answered, “potato.” I may have also muttered, “but potatoes are a starch and not a vegetable.” As I spend more of my time cooking nourishing food, I am discovering, all vegetables are versatile, you just need to get the hang of their flavors and textures.
When it comes to preparing vegetables, the creative possibilities are endless. Give yourself permission to play with your food. Try new recipes that use ingredients in ways you haven’t thought of before. A combination that sounds whacky at first could become your most splattered and dog eared recipe card.
In my kitchen the recipe for Cauliflower “Fried Rice” would be on the road to becoming throughly food flecked except that it is so stinkin’ easy I haven’t needed to write it down!
I already have a standard method for turning leftover rice and vegetables into fried rice. To make this new version I just swapped pulverized fresh cauliflower for my usual day old rice. It took a few extra minutes to prep the cauliflower but nothing that should keep it from joining your weeknight menu rotation.
After I experimented with the technique a few times I assembled some tips to smooth out the learning curve.
Making the “rice” – This is one of the fun parts! Grab a head of cauliflower and cut it into chunks small enough to fit down the shoot of your food processor. I had the best luck making rice in small batches. Start the blade and feed about 1/4 of the chunks down the shoot. Let the blade run a minute or so to completely pulverize the pieces. Empty the rice sized bits into a large bowl then repeat the process three more times. This step is messy but relax, it’s only cauliflower!
Spice it up! Fresh ginger is one of my favorite ways to add brightness to recipes. Ginger’s spicy and slightly acidic flavor blends harmoniously with soy’s salty sweetness. When preparing ginger for a recipe, use a spoon to easily remove the papery peel. For coarse pieces grate it with a standard box grater, for a finer texture use a microplane. Wait! You don’t have a microplane?!? Right click on this text —> to order one from Amazon RIGHT NOW! It’s not often you can completely change your life for less than $20.
Store the remaining ginger root in the freezer, tightly wrapped with plastic wrap and tucked into a zip top baggie. Next time you need fresh ginger, grab the root from the freezer and grate it into your dish.
Clean out the fridge! Got some eggs? Scramble a couple. Need to use half a bell pepper or a stray green onion? Chop them up and toss them in. Leftover chicken, steak, chops, or roasts all work well in this dish, just dice whatever you have on hand.
Your kitchen means your rules. Trying new vegetables can seem intimidating at first but don’t worry they won’t bite. Once you have a handle on the basics of a new recipe you can change the ingredients and seasonings to make them even more versatile.
- 1 head of cauliflower (1½ - 2 lbs)
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
- 1 to 2 cups of assorted vegetables fresh or thawed from frozen and cut into small pieces
- (suggestions: bell pepper, onion of any variety, peas, green beans, carrots)
- ½ lb of grilled pork, cut into small pieces - omit for vegetarian
- 1 inch of fresh ginger root, grated
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- ½ teaspoon hot sauce (add more if you like)
- Use a food processor to pulverize the cauliflower into rice sized pieces. Pulse the blade and work in small batches to avoid making a paste. Empty the food processor bowl after each ¼ of the cauliflower to avoid over crowding the bowl.
- Heat a large sauté pan to medium heat and scramble the eggs, about 5 minutes. Once cooked remove the egg to a small dish and set aside. Gently scrape pan surface to remove any large bits of egg residue.
- Add 1 teaspoon of oil to the pan and increase the heat to medium high. Sauté the vegetables for 4 - 5 minutes. They should be heated through and a little toasty, not mushy. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Drizzle the remaining two teaspoons of oil into the pan and let it come to temperature then add the cauliflower.
- Toss and flip the cauliflower so that some of the moisture cooks out of it and all the bits get to make contact with the pan surface and get toasty - around 5 minutes.
- Once the cauliflower has heated through add the meat and vegetables back into the pan with the cauliflower and toss to combine.
- Add the grated ginger, soy sauce, fish sauce, and hot sauce and toss to combine. Reduce the heat as needed to keep the sauces from burning. Cook another two minutes then mix in the eggs and serve.