Get Dirty

Perhaps you have heard? Cauliflower is the new kale.
Or so says The Huffington Post, New York Daily News and Slate. All verifiable reliable sources when it comes to who's on top in the vegetable world. As a certified veg-head, cauliflower has been my kale for quite a while now (proof--this January 9, 2011, blog post featuring cauliflower rice).

The almighty cruciferous head of loveliness is a vast and versatile vegetable. Mash, steam, fry, saute, roast and rice and with each preparation it can become something completely different. Cauliflower can be a vegetarian lover's "steak" or a carnivore's side of mashed "faux taters" (from May 19, 2010, blog post).

For those who prefer more colorful eats, look for the cool purple and orange varities pop up at The Yard Farmers & Ranchers Market in San Antonio (grown specifically by Fernando and Miguel of 9-1 Farm in Devine) or at farmers markets near you.

What I love about the purple cauliflower is that the olive oil turns a light shade of purple while cooking.
Four years ago, I started making cauliflower rice, thanks to one of my favorite blogs, Elana's Pantry. What I love about this recipe is that you can add whatever vegetables you want to the dish for a "vegetable lover's stir fry rice." Whatever is in the veggie drawer, add it in.

Lately, I have been making the cauliflower rice "dirty" by adding pastured ground pork or pan sausage. Either work and give the healthy dish just enough fat, flavor and meaty texture. The result is simply stunning and so hearty that it can be a satisfying entree for both a flexitarian and a carnivore.

In this version, I used what I had on hand and it was a symphony of flavors and a rainbow of colors. The traditional cauliflower rice calls for adding celery and onions, but I also added red pepper, bok choy (in place of the celery), onion and mushrooms. Make it "dirty" by adding crispy ground pork and everyone will love it.

Though it looks like the Creole version of dirty rice, it's really the grain-free cousin. So, let's get dirty.

Buen provecho!
Dirty Cauliflower Rice
The Cowgirl Gourmet

Print recipe

The original idea of cauliflower rice was inspired by Elana Amsterdam, of Elana's Pantry four years ago. Most recently, I was headed to a party and was to bring a side dish. The entree was a Mexican chicken dish and I thought this would pair well and give others who may be cutting carbs a delicious option to the traditional Spanish rice. Two people asked for the recipe that night and I have made it three times since then. It's a winner.

Serves 4-8

Olive oil, for cooking, as needed
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 pound pastured ground pork (you could easily use grass-fed ground beef)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 onion, diced
3 green onions, sliced
3 stalks of celery or 1 baby bok choy, cored and sliced
1/4 pound mushroom caps, sliced
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more for seasoning while cooking
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into small florets, about 3-5 cups (depending on the size of your cauliflower)

In a large skillet, place over high heat and add olive oil. When hot, turn to medium-high heat and add the onion. Saute 2-3 minutes and then add the ground pork. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt to season. Break up the pork into small bites and cook until onions are softened and pork is no longer pink. Drain any excess oil, place pork-onion mixture in a bowl and set aside.
Wipe out the skillet, add more olive oil and place over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, begin adding the remaining chopped onion, green onions and celery (do not add bok choy yet, if using). Toss to coat with the oil and allow to saute until softened, about 3-6 minutes. Then add the bok choy, if using, and the mushrooms and saute a few more minutes until wilted. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and stir well to incorporate. When the vegetables are done, place on a plate and set aside.
Using a food processor, add 1/3 of the cauliflower florets and pulse until the cauliflower resembles rice. Then dump the "rice" into a big bowl and repeat until all of the cauliflower is riced. There may be a few chunks leftover, but they can be pulled out and pulsed again with the next batch.
Now put some more olive oil in the skillet, place over medium-high heat and, when the oil is hot, add the rice and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Toss well to coat and allow to saute until softened, about 8-15 minutes. Before the rice is cooked through, add the pork-onion mixture and sauteed vegetables and parsley and toss well to combine, allowing it to heat through and the flavors to meld a bit.
When well combined and hot, serve immediately. Reserve any leftovers and serve for breakfast topped with a fried pastured egg.

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