Cauliflower Faux Fried Rice

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So. Yeah. This cauliflower craze. It’s a love and hate thing. I love that I can eat some of my favorite evil comfort foods without furthering the heart disease caused by my love-affair with The Pig. Often healthful recipes meant to mimic comfort foods are almost universally straight up disastrous.  Or maybe I’m just THAT much in love with all that is intent on shortening my life on this planet?  That means I’ve tried  a lot of utterly disappointing faux recipes involving cauliflower. Failures include recipes that still taste like cauliflower, those that are too soggy, ones that fall apart, and ones that are too dry or have no flavor,  and on and on AND ON. After a lot of trialing, I was finally able to conjure up some stir fried rice that comes really, really (I mean really!) close to the real deal. Indeed, this stuff was so good that it instantly transported me to eating fried rice as a child in the old international food court that used to sit off of N. Market Street.  When I make this, I make a vat and eat it all week. It’s seriously that addicting.

The keys to whipping up some of this delicious faux fried rice include pre-cooking the ‘rice’, squeezing the liquid out of the cauliflower rice, getting a little caramelization on the rice, and adding some flavorful ingredients. The caramelization/drying step takes a little bit of time, but no longer than cooking a pot of rice and busting out a wok. Also, feel free to get a little freaky and throw in whatever ingredients you like best–just like fried rice, this little gem is forgiving.  Be prepared to fall in love with something that is actually good for you!

Faux Fried Rice (Cauliflower Fried Rice)

  • 1 head cauliflower, riced, steamed, and squeezed free of liquid
  • 1/2 small onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup of frozen green peas
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 4 ounces of ham (or pork, or chicken, or shrimp)
  • 2 tsp Sesame oil
  • 1 TBSP Ponzu sauce (in the ‘international’ section of your grocery store or make some)
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce or liquid aminos
  • 1 TBSP rice seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • scallions for garnish

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Rice, steam, and squeeze the fluid out of your cauliflower like the technique used in our cauliflower crackers and cauliflower tater tots. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread your cauliflower mixture in a thin layer. Cook until lightly browned a slightly dried a bit.  This step adds flavor, decreases the familiar cauliflower flavor, and helps the ‘rice’ grains stay separated when adding the other ingredients (don’t skip it!). Cool your cauliflower rice on the pan. Break up any clumps and set aside.  Heat a small amount of oil in a non-stick pan over medium heat. Add your carrots and saute until beginning to soften. Add your onions and saute until translucent. Add your peas and saute until just heated through. Remove all vegetables from pan. Place the ham in your pan and cook until edges are browned. Remove the ham from the pan and add to the vegetables. Assure the pan is adequately lubricated with oil. Add your whisked eggs and scramble, leaving them in bits about half the size of your pinkie finger (any smaller and you lose their texture and flavor amongst everything else). When you are done scrambling your eggs, return the ham and vegetables to the pan. Add your cauliflower ‘rice’. Add 2 tsp sesame oil, 1 TBSP ponzu sauce, 1 TBSP soy sauce or liquid aminos, 1/4 tsp white pepper, and 1 TBSP rice seasoning. Stir gently to incorporate the ingredients and heat the cauliflower rice through. Serve and enjoy tremendously! If you’re in the mood to wrestle with a little food guilt, serve your healthy fried rice with Shanghai Red Cooked Pork Belly or Chinese Red Cooked Beef. Grilled chicken or shrimp would be a great pairing too. You won’t be disappointed!

 

 

Cauliflower Tater Tots

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Everybody loves a tater tot. Eh-vreh-body.

cauliflower tots

Tater tots and ligers. Both favorites.

A place The Hubbs and I hit up a few times a year has straight up ol’ skool tater tots and ketchup. Before going there, I had not indulged in a tater tot in about 20 years. And then, just like that, I was totally obsessed. For obvious health reasons, being obsessed with tater tots is not a good thing. So, I set out to make a healthy alternative.  A good place to start for carb-bread substitutes is cauliflower.  Man, I was pleasantly surprised! A little snappy sauce and they’re a perfect guilty pleasure packed with nutrients. AND they’re baked. You’re welcome!

Cauliflower Tater Tots

  • 1 head of Cauliflower, riced, and squeezed of it’s liquid
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup of sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 TBSP almond flour
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp white pepper
  • salt to taste

Prepare a baking sheet with a parchment sheet that has been lightly sprayed with high-heat cooking oil or cooking spray. Rice, steam, cool, and de-juice your cauliflower like the technique used in our cauliflower crackers.

cauliflower tater tots

Cut your head of cauliflower into florets

cauliflower tater tots

Next up…the Cauliflower is ‘riced’ and steamed. Doing so allows us to get the most moisture out of the cauliflower when you give it the big squeeze.

Next, add the eggs, cheese, almond flour, onion powder, white pepper, and salt.

cauli tots

Throw in all of the other ingredients and mix well.

Mix the ingredients well. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the space where your hand meets your fingers, form your cauli tots by gently squeezing and rolling a small amount of the mixture while lightly tapping down the ends to create the familiar barrel shape. Place your tots on the parchment, leaving a bit of space between each one. When all of your tots are lined up, spray the tops lightly with high-heat cooking oil or cooking spray.

cauliflower tots

Your tots are ready to pop into the oven. Having tots without the guilt and carbs is so worth the wait!

Pop your tots in the oven and bake for 12 minutes or until browned on the bottom. Roll each tot a quarter of a roll and cook 5 or so minutes until the new bottom is browned. Repeat the quarter-turn roll and cook another 5 minutes or so until the bottom is browned. Repeat the roll one last time to make sure all sides are browned and crisp.

cauliflower tater tots

Ermagahhhhd. Tots! Even Napoleon Dynamite would stuff these into his pants pockets!

I’m a big fan of serving these tots with a mayo-ketchup-horseradish sauce. After all, if the tots are all full of goodness you can get a little cray cray with your condiments!

Cauli tots

Eat them up!

Cauliflower Crackers

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cauliflower crackers

Too tasty cauliflower crackers!

So, this whole no wheat, no grain thing cuts out some major food categories, crackers being one of them.  It’s not as if I sat on the couch eating a box of crackers, but there are just some instances in which a cracker would be handy.  Say, like for hummus. Or chicken liver mousse. Or for beet dip. Or with soup.  Or just because!  I’m certainly down with using sliced veggies as a vehicle, but sometimes they’re just not right.  In my searching to find something that acted like a cracker but also was full of healthy nutrients, I stumbled upon our friend the cauliflower cracker.  I figured, yeah right, cracker. Sure.  But boy, was I wrong. These are crunchy, stay crunchy, and have a savory-cheesy goodness to them.  Perfect!  Oh…and they’re quite addictive so you might want to make more than you think you’ll need.

Cauliflower Crackers:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups of cheese (mozzarella, jack, cheddar, parm, or the like)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • few grinds of black pepper
  • 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets

Preheat oven to 425 degrees with racks in middle of oven.

Wash cauliflower and pat dry. Separate into florets.

cauliflower crackerscauliflower cracker

Place cauliflower florets in food processor and pulse until ‘riced’ or it looks like cauliflower snow.

Cauliflower riceCauliflower rice

Place cauliflower rice/snow in a bowl, cover with a plate, and microwave on high for 5-7 minutes until thoroughly steamed. Remove plate, spread in double-cheesecloth or flour sack-lined colander (spreading it out helps it to cool faster).  Let it cool thoroughly, 10-15 minutes. Do other things during this time–like think about all the fantastic things you’re going to put on your crackers!!

cauliflower rice

Once thoroughly cooled, gather up the cloth ends, twist to form a cauliflower ball, and squeeze as much liquid out as you can. Repeat until the cauliflower does not release any more liquid (5-6 good squeezes). Unravel your cloth over a bowl to make sure all of the cauliflower snow makes it into the bowl.

cauliflower crackerscauliflower cracker

Add your spices to the dry cauliflower rice/snow/pulp.  I chose to use garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika but the sky is really the limit.  Rosemary, parsley, fennel, or red pepper would work.  Trying out some spice mixes would be great too–like Moroccan, Southwestern, or Greek.  Mmmmmm–Greek spices and Tzatziki sauce for the dip—yes, please!

cauliflower crackersat

Add the 3 beaten eggs and the 2 cups of your choice of cheese (firmer cheeses like cheddar, shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, etc. work best).  Add pepper to taste. Salt is not necessary due to the salt in the cheese. Mix well–I won’t lie, hands work best for this!

cauliflower cracker

Now spread the ‘dough’ very thinly on your parchment-lined cookie sheets. The thinner the better–mine was probably between 1/8 and 1/4 inch thick.

cauliflower cracker

Bake until beginning to brown on edges, about 10-12 minutes.  Cut your sheet of cauliflower crackers-to-be into cracker-sized strips using a pizza cutter (you can also make round flats of dough and then cut into triangles for pita-type chips). Flip the strips and cook another 5-10 minutes until the underside begins to brown. Remove from oven.

After cooling enough to handle, transfer to a dehydrator set to 135 degrees (fruit/vegetable setting) and dehydrate for about 8 hours or until crisp. Other recipes indicated you may let the chips sit in a cool oven overnight instead of using a dehydrator, but I have not tried that method (I will next time and post an update).

 cauliflower crackerscauliflower cracker

After fully dry and cool, store in a ziploc bag with the top open (to avoid moisture build-up).  Better yet, try using silica gel desiccant packs to keep the moisture off.  They work wonders for dehydrated foods stored in containers.

Enjoy with spreads, dips, soups, or plain! They’re super satisfying with a big ol’ cup of Creamy Turnip Soup (recipe here) laced with a bit of walnut oil.  Seriously. I had 2 bowls just so I could keep dipping the crackers into it!

cauliflower crackers

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil

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I don’t remember where I first came across roasted cauliflower soup.  What I do remember is that I fell in love immediately.  I was never a big fan of cauliflower as it was most often either tasteless, waterlogged, or overly sulfurous.  Roasted cauliflower, however, is divine. It’s addictive.  Once I roasted a head of florets and served them with browned butter–nary a crumb left within minutes.  Roasted cauliflower soup is more substantial than a boiled and pureed cauliflower soup, it feels richer, has more depth, and has a little nutty hint.  A few drops of white truffle oil make it transcendent.  And the beauty is it really is quite simple to make.  You can opt to add cream or leave it out if you’re dairy-free, lactose-intolerant, or non-dairy paleo.  I do love the cream, and it’s just a wee bit per bowl, but the soup tastes good without it, too.  Plus, cauliflower is a powerhouse nutritionally and touts detoxification, cardiovascular, digestive, and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Win! Win!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with White Truffle Oil (makes about 6 cups)

For the Roasted Cauliflower:

  • 1 head of cauliflower, washed, air-dried and broken into florets
  • 1 TBSP Light Tasting Olive Oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the soup:

  • 6 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 sweet potato (not yam), peeled and cubed
  • 2 tsp organic paste chicken bouillon (alternatively, use 3 cups water and 3 cups stock instead of 6 cups of filtered water)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • White truffle oil
  • parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place florets on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss gently to cover.  Place baking sheet on the middle rack and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn cauliflower with tongs or spatula and roast 20 minutes longer or until cauliflower becomes golden brown on edges and becomes slightly more translucent but stalks remain slightly firm.

Roasted Cauliflower

Lovely roasted cauliflower.

Place florets in stock pot over medium-high and cover with water (about 6 cups).  Add sweet potato, paste bouillon, garlic, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Simmer until cauliflower is thoroughly cooked and tender, about 20 minutes.  Once tender, puree small batches of the cauliflower soup in a blender until silky smooth (about 2 minutes per batch).  Return to stock pot over low heat. Whisk in heavy cream. Ladle into bowls and garnish with drops of white truffle oil (a tiny amount goes a LONG way!) and parsley.

Cauliflower Soup

Roasted cauliflower soup with white truffle oil and parsley. Too tasty!

Roasted Cauliflower Soup

An alternative garnish–browned butter, roasted florets, and bits of smokey bacon. This is a great winter addition that packs some real satisfaction!

Roasted Cauliflower

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Cauliflower.  I know what you’re thinking. Water-logged, bland, mushy.  No, thanks. But you’d be remiss if you didn’t reconsider this powerhouse of a vegetable.  Long relegated to the crudités tray, cauliflower could very well make a comeback with this one.  Roasting the cauliflower caramelizes the edges, reduces the sulfurous taste, and improves the texture.  I’ve found roasting cauliflower also reduces the stomach upset often associated with eating it raw.  Instead of raw cauliflower and ranch, why not roasted cauliflower and browned butter, tahini, hummus, or white bean dip?  Then again, this cauliflower is so good it doesn’t even need a dip and it functions beautifully as a side dish or on top of a salad.  I really do have a hard time eating cauliflower any other way now that I’ve tried this style.

Roasted Cauliflower

  • 1 head cauliflower, washed, dried, and cut into florets
  • 1 TBSP Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil (or melted coconut, or clarified butter)
  • 1 clove mashed and minced garlic (if you love garlic, up it to two)
  • sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Place florets on a parchment-lined, rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with garlic, salt, and pepper.  Toss gently to cover.

Cauliflower

Make sure florets are fairly uniform in size so they roast evenly.

Place baking sheet on the middle rack and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn cauliflower with tongs or spatula and roast 20 minutes longer or until cauliflower becomes golden brown on edges and becomes slightly more translucent but stalks remain slightly firm.  Let cool slightly before serving or cook ahead of time and gently reheat. Leftovers (if you ever have any!) can be turned into a fantastic roasted cauliflower soup.

Roasted Cauliflower

Slight translucence, caramelized edges, and slightly firm stalks mean it’s done. Great news…this can be cooked ahead and reheated gently or leftovers make a great roasted cauliflower soup!