Cauliflower "Rice" Perfected

All the testing is done. I've made all the mistakes that you might have and now you can follow my tips and this recipe and get it right from the start. 

cauliflower rice

1. Use your food processor's shredding blade.

I started my recipe testing using the S-shaped blade (Sabatier blade, apparently that's what it's called). I had to process the cauliflower in small batches, pulse each one, then pull out the leftover larger chunks and scoop out the riced cauliflower. Then do it all over again for the next batch. It was tedious. When I switched to the shredding blade, all I did was cut the cauliflower in chunks that fit into the feeder tube, then put them all through the shredder. It was a breeze!

2. Don't let your cauliflower sit.

I'm a big fan of any do-ahead prepping. In the case of cauliflower, the less time before you cook it, the better the flavor and texture. I also found that when I "riced" the cauliflower too far in advance, I lost quite a bit of volume. Even more so than just your normal cooking-veggies-loss-of-volume. 

3. Double the recipe.

Mostly because it's so delicious, but also because like most vegetables, this cauliflower will cook down. See number 2 above.

4. Get creative.

I know you've seen the cool recipes. Cauliflower can handle some strong and interesting flavors, think buffalo cauliflower bites, cauliflower pizza crust and cauliflower cheesy tots. This cauliflower "rice" can morph into fried rice with a little chicken, some peas, carrots, onion, garlic and soy sauce. Or, a pilaf, by adding some chopped dates and toasted pine nuts. 

cauliflower rice

Cauliflower "rice" pilaf with toasted pine nuts and chopped dates.

Cauliflower "Rice" (Vegan and Gluten-free)

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 large head, fresh cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Directions

Cut cauliflower into small florets (sized to fit through your food processor's feeder tube). Attach the shredding blade to your food processor and feed the head of cauliflower through to "rice" it. Preheat a large non-stick saute pan with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Saute the "riced" cauliflower over medium heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kosher salt and check for seasonings. Serve hot or warm.

Oven Roasted Plantains

What do you get when you mix a potato with a banana? You get a plantain! They are starchy, sweet and delicious. Unfortunately, most recipes call for deep frying them. We don't often deep fry at home, because a) it's not too healthy, and b) it makes a pretty big mess. My husband made a big batch of pork chili verde this weekend which gave me the opportunity to make these oven roasted plantains as an accompaniment.   

oven roasted plantains

Oven Roasted Plantains

serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 half-ripe plantains (between green and black)
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon Adobo seasoning
Proper peeling for plantains

Proper peeling for plantains

Directions

Preheat a half sheet pan on the bottom rack of your oven at 425 F. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl whisk together lime juice, vegetable oil and Adobo seasoning. Prepare plantains: slice off both ends, and run a small paring knife down the side of the fruit to open the peel. Remove peel like a jacket.

Slice into 1/4 inch slices and gently coat in the lime juice mixture. Once your oven is preheated, carefully place a sheet of parchment paper on the hot pan and add the plantains; spreading them out into one even layer. Bake for 15 minutes. Drop the heat to 400 F and turn over each plantain slice. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until plantains are softened and cooked through. This is the perfect opportunity for a taste-test! Serve warm or at room temperature.

I like to dip the plantains in a lime mayonnaise: 1/2 cup Duke's mayonnaise, juice from 1/2 lime and a pinch of salt.

Plantains caramelized from their trip in the oven.

Plantains caramelized from their trip in the oven.

Millet Scallion Pancakes

Millet, along with farro, quinoa and wheatberries, has become the new trendy grain. Even Bon Appetit is featuring millet in a gluten-free pancake recipe. Truth be told, it took me years and years to eat millet again. It was THE FOOD that I ate daily during my 2 + years in the Peace Corps. It's not that I didn't like the flavor, it's just that eating the same food over and over again got old. Of course, my adoptive family in the village of Illakitan in Niger didn't have the luxury of "options". 

This blog post hits the tail end of Peace Corps week 2014. I'll take this opportunity to say that my life's path was shaped by my service and by the amazing people I met and shared meals with.

millet scallion pancakes

Millet Scallion Pancakes

Bon Appetit's dipping sauce recipe

Bon Appetit's dipping sauce recipe

Adapted from Bon Appetit, serves 8

Ingredients

  • ¾ cup millet, uncooked
  • 1½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more
  • ⅓ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Sriracha
  • 8 scallions, thinly sliced, divided, plus more for serving
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil

Directions

Cook millet in a large saucepan of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until tender, 15–20 minutes; drain, shaking off as much water as possible. Spread out on a rimmed baking sheet and let cool.

Meanwhile, whisk soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, Sriracha, and ¼ of scallions in a small bowl; set sauce aside.

Whisk eggs, sour cream, milk, cornstarch, sesame oil, and 1½ tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Fold in millet and ¾ of scallions.

Working in 3 batches, heat 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet or well-seasoned cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add heaping spoonfuls of millet batter to skillet, press to ¼” thickness, and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side; transfer pancakes to a paper towel–lined plate.

Sprinkle pancakes with more scallions and serve with reserved sauce. Pancakes can be kept warm in a low oven (170 F) for approximately 30 minutes before serving.

millet scallion pancakes

The first time I made these pancakes we enjoyed them as an appetizer, and they are great as a stand-alone. The second time, we had them as a side with stir-fried pork tenderloin, and they were just as good. They make a fantastic bed for Asian flavors.