Okay guys, we had a good run, but the holidays are behind us now and it’s time to get healthy. After countless home-cooked meals, seconds, and desserts (why yes, I’ll have a second piece!), it’s time to reset our bodies and renew for 2014. My plan is to cook at home, eat everything unprocessed, and keep to a flexitarian, Mediterranean diet where I get most of my healthy carbs from vegetables and fruits. It’s not a diet so much as a lifestyle. It’s always worked for me in the past; moderation and clean eating helps me to look and feel my best. I’ll be sharing some recipes with you over the next few weeks to help you recharge and shape up for the new year!
This Cauliflower “Couscous” is a ridiculously simple, low carb, all natural gluten-free substitute for couscous, rice and mashed potatoes. It’s also a great side dish to have on hand during Passover, when grains are off the menu. I’ve been serving this for several years as a side dish whenever we want to slim down. I thought the idea was pretty original, until I saw other cooks coming out with their own versions. Apparently it’s not such a new concept. Still, I wanted to share the basic idea here since it might be new to some of you. This is the simple, pared down version of Cauliflower Couscous without any fancy additions, but you can certainly add ingredients to make it more interesting. Spices, sauteed vegetables, dried fruits, parmesan cheese… there are so many ways you can go with this. Get creative! Or, you can serve it my favorite way– stir in some butter till melted, season with salt and pepper, and enjoy a comforting diet-friendly side dish. Parmesan cheese makes it a special treat. I also love serving vegetarian curry on top, or pasta sauce if I’m in an Italian mood. Oh, the possibilities!
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- 1-2 heads cauliflower (one large head or two small), totaling about 3 lbs., or 2 lbs. cauliflower florets
- 1/2 cup water
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter or margarine
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Parmesan cheese, sauteed vegetables, dried fruits, spices or other add-ins
- Remove the stem and leaves from the bottom of the cauliflower.
- I prefer to grate the cauliflower in a food processor, but you can also grate it by hand. If you plan to grate by hand, cut it into large but manageable pieces (4 or 6 per head). Rinse the pieces thoroughly to remove any debris.
- Hand grate the cauliflower using the large holes of a box or cheese grater.
- If you are using a food processor, cut the cauliflower into large florets.
- Rinse thoroughly to remove any debris.
- Place half of the clean cauliflower florets into the food processor. Pulse in the processor till the cauliflower resembles small couscous-like pieces. Do not over-process; let it retain some texture. If any larger pieces remain after the cauliflower is cut down to size, remove them from the bowl and process them separately. Set processed cauliflower aside and repeat the process with the second half of the florets.
- Place a medium pot on the stovetop and bring 1/2 cup water to a boil.
- Pour in the processed cauliflower in an even layer on top of the boiling water.
- Cover the pot with a lid. Let the cauliflower steam over medium high heat for 5-7 minutes, stirring once with a fork during cooking, till the cauliflower reaches desired tenderness. Watch it carefully; if you overcook it will burn due to the small amount of liquid. It shouldn't take longer than 7 minutes to steam. Your house will be filled with a-- umm, interesting cauliflower aroma as it cooks. Not my fave, but it's worth it, because the finished product is so darned tasty.
- Remove from heat and fluff the cauliflower with a fork; all of the liquid should be absorbed. At this point, the cauliflower can be used plain as-is as a base for sauces, curries, tagines, etc. If you'd like to enjoy it as a side dish, season with salt and pepper to taste. I like to stir in 1-2 tbsp butter or olive oil for flavor. You can also add some Parmesan cheese or any seasonings you like; it provides a good base, feel free to get creative.