Cauliflower Rice

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I know this technique has been around for a while, but somehow it never made it onto my radar, until the other day when hubby and I were watching a cooking show, and one of the guests showed how easy it is to make.  If you like cauliflower, it’s such a fun way to eat it.  But if you think you’re gonna low-carb it, and eliminate real rice from your diet by substituting this dish, fuggetaboutit.   It tastes like cauliflower, it smells like cauliflower, it is cauliflower.  (And please, please don’t set your little kids up for failure by telling them it’s rice!  Which is exactly what happened on the cooking show. Kids aren’t stupid; the mom tasted it first and her reaction was less than convincing, so no surprise when her two young boys refused to even taste it.  This hurts my heart, to see two young children embarrassed in front of millions of TV watchers;  if that poor mom thought she was going to make things better, I’m pretty sure it backfired.  Now they have another reason not to trust what Mom says about food.  Pardon me, I didn’t mean to rant.)

Nonetheless, it does make a reasonable substitute for rice in some meals.  This week, we subbed it in for rice with chicken in mushroom sauce, very tasty.  At another meal, we ate it as a side with chicken caesar salad.  We’ve enjoyed it so much, it will become a regular addition to our mealtimes.

One of the nice things about cauliflower is, while having a distinct ‘cauliflower’ taste, it is bland enough to pair up with almost any other flavor of herb or spice that you care to think about.  Also, adding other vegetables can make it a sort of pilaf (think celery, grated carrot, green peas, onions, bell pepper, etc, etc),  then go one step farther by adding a source of protein and you’ve got dinner.  You’re only limited by your imagination 🙂

Cauliflower Rice

1 small/medium head of cauliflower (enough for sides for 4-6 adults)

3 sliced scallions

3 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp finely minced fresh thyme

1/2 cup chicken broth

salt and pepper

Wash, trim and break into florets.  Whiz the pieces in a food processor for a few seconds, until the size of (you guessed it) rice grains.   Alternatively, grate the florets on a box grater.  Heat a large frying pan with olive oil over medium heat.  Add cauliflower and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook and stir for 3-5 minutes, then add green onions and fresh thyme.  Be sure to stir often to avoid browning the veggies.  As the cauliflower softens and the herbs become fragrant with the heat,  add half of the chicken broth.  Cook 2 minutes more, then add the remaining broth.  Stir and taste to adjust seasonings if necessary.  Cook a minute or two longer if needed, being careful not to overcook.  (The “grains” are small, it’s a fine line between done and overdone.)

As always, wishing you Bon Appetit!

 

 

 

 

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Creamy Lemon Basil Sauce with Chicken and Veggie Stir-fry

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This dish is mostly about the sauce.  It’s easy to stir-fry some chicken and veggies, but the yummy flavors of lemon and basil made a welcome change from our usual Asian flavors stir-fries.  Think  hollandaise, and a continental version of stir-fry and you’ll get the idea.  We served the stir-fry on  a bed of fragrant rice, then spooned sauce over the whole thing.  Two thumbs up from the guys 🙂

Lemon Basil Sauce

1/2 cup butter

2 tsp minced garlic

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp white wine

1/8 tsp salt

freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 cup heavy cream

8 basil leaves, sliced, plus extra leaves for garnish

Melt butter in small pot over low heat.  Add garlic and saute for about 30 seconds.  Don’t let the garlic brown.  Add the lemon juice and wine and cook another minute or two.   Add salt, pepper and cream.  Simmer very gently over low heat, for about 15 minutes, until thickened and smooth, stirring frequently and at the end, constantly.  Serve immediately.

Oven-baked Pilaf

 

The great thing about a casserole dish like this is its versatility.  You can add pretty much whatever veggies you have on hand (sauteed celery/onion/carrot; sliced black olives, bell pepper, etc); you can keep the flavoring plain and simple or spice it up with your favorite herbs and seasonings.  It makes a great dish for a buffet or potluck, plus it goes great with Chinese takeout.

Oven-baked Pilaf

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

5 cups hot chicken stock/broth

1 1/2 cups sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onion

3 tbsp butter

3/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Combine rice water, mushrooms, green onion, butter and chicken stock in a greased 10-cup casserole.  Stir with a fork to blend.  Cover casserole.  Bake at 375 degrees F for about an hour, or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed.  Stir in sliced almonds just before serving.  Makes 6-8 servings.

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