If by now you’ve mastered the art of the zoodle (AKA zucchini noodle), with a fridge filled with spiralized veggies and healthified pad Thai to show for it, we’ve got a new, OMG-this-is-brilliant veggie swap for you: cauliflower rice.
Cauliflower tastes delicious when roasted whole, grilled as a steak, or mashed like potatoes, but the cruciferous and protein-packed vegetable (11 grams per head!) really wins style points when it’s chopped up into tiny nutritious morsels.
Cauli rice is amazing for turning your favorite dishes into gluten-free, low-carb versions
That’s because cauli rice is incredibly versatile when it comes to turning your favorite dishes into gluten-free, low-carb versions; substitute it for rice in burrito bowls and sushi, turn it into gluten-free crusts for pizza or quiche, even use it to whip up rice-free pudding. With this super-swap, you can sneak an extra serving of veggies into just about anything.
Even better? It’s ridiculously simple to make yourself. Simply chop up a head of cauliflower into florets and pulse it in a food processor until you have a fine, rice-like consistency. And if you’ve got no time to prep it yourself after a post-work sweat session, you’re in luck: The faux-rice is becoming so popular that some supermarkets are starting to sell it pre-chopped.
Originally posted February 16, 2016, updated July 16, 2016.
Ready to try it? Keep reading for 10 easy recipes that use cauliflower rice in your favorite foods.
Pizza lovers, rejoice. Riced cauliflower, almond flour, and eggs combine to make a lighter, gluten-free version of the classic pizza crust. Love and Lemon‘s Jeanine tops her nutritious pie with kale pesto, eggs, tomato, mozzarella, and basil, but you can get creative with your favorite toppings. And while it won’t taste exactly like the slices from your favorite Italian joint, it will definitely hit the spot.
Risotto gets a veggified makeover, with arborio subbed out in favor of cauliflower rice. “Add in wine, asparagus, and a little cheese and you’ve just made a killer fake-out risotto,” writes Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest. If you’re looking for a vegan version, swap nutritional yeast for the Parmesan—but don’t skip out on her super-delish Cilantro-Basil Hemp Seed Pesto, which is Gerard’s favorite part of the whole dish.
Just when you thought sushi couldn’t get any better, A Tasty Love Story‘s Josephine figures out how to take it up a healthy notch. Her secret? A bit of cream cheese gives the cauliflower a sticky rice consistency, while rice vinegar helps maintain the flavor profile.
Subbing cauliflower rice for the classic brown or white rice does not make this healthified meal any less filling. The bowls get “a hearty twist with the addition of black beans and a sprinkling of cilantro,” writes Ashley of Blissful Basil, who also adds sautéed peppers and onions for flavor and tops them off with a tasty homemade vegan sour cream. Take that, Chipotle.
As beloved as buttery, flaky quiche crust is, it can feel like you’re serving up your healthy ingredients in croissants. This dish gets its healthy-swap inspiration from cauliflower crust pizza. Packed with zucchini, pepper, onion, broccoli, and mushrooms, the brunch staple is not lacking in flavor or nutrient-dense veggies.
Alissa of Connoisseurus Veg proves that cauliflower rice is not a tasteless “diet food.” This healthy version of the Chinese takeout staple is just as flavorful and filling, with carrots, snow peas, and scallions. A sprinkling of cashews on top add crunch and a dose of healthy fats, too. Finally, you can toss that takeout menu.
Vitamin-rich sweet potatoes, antioxidant-packed collard greens, and fibrous cauliflower rice… these wraps can barely contain all of those nutrients (seriously, grab a napkin). And Roasted Root‘s Julia wants you to get creative. “You can get all sorts of frisky with collard wraps, incorporating your favorite rice, veggies, shoot—even beans, why the heck not?—and spreads/sauces.” Need some extra protein? Add in scrambled eggs or grilled chicken. Consider tomorrow’s lunch, done.
If there was a cauliflower rice Iron Chef, it would be The Iron You’s Mike
If we could anoint a cauliflower rice Iron Chef, it would be Mike Brosio of The Iron You. You name it, he’s figured out how to cauli-rice it. Take the classic calzone: Here, the equivalent of a bread hug becomes veggie paradise; cheesy and stuffed with crimini mushrooms and spinach, we’ll take this nutritious version of the comfort food over the original any day.
Veggie and the Beast‘s Katie loves cauliflower rice. Why? “It adds volume, texture, and nutrients to meals.” She puts the miracle grain-replacement to use in this veggie-ful recipe, and tops it off with a delicious sriracha peanut sauce (don’t you love when protein and healthy fats couple up?). Plus, the bibb lettuce makes for an edible, Instagram-worthy bowl.
This dessert is a sweet and serious crowd-pleaser: It’s perfect for anyone who is gluten-, sugar-, or dairy-free, not to mention Paleo. And Cookies to Kale‘s Synthia promises your less-health conscious friends won’t have any idea that the main ingredient is a veggie.
Hungry for more? Well+Good readers love this bread-free cauliflower grilled cheese, too. And these three food swaps will make your week way healthier.