A tasty side dish perfect for your "bowls," in your burritos, alongside your main dishes, Healthy Mexican-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower Rice gets a flavor boost from the caramelization, and a Latin vibe from the cumin, chipotle, and garlic... AND. It's vegan, gluten free, paleo, keto, and delicious!
At 60 years old, maintaining my weight, eating a healthy diet, and exercising regularly is of paramount importance. WARNING: It gets more and more difficult with each passing year.
Because I LOVE Mexican food and flavors, I'm on a mission to find new and healthy ways to incorporate those flavors into our meals, while allowing an occasional indulgence. When the scales show an extra pound or two, I shift into "low carb" mode, and it always works!
I will never be one to do a Keto or Paleo diet... if I do a "diet" at all, it loosely follows the Mediterranean diet - fish and seafood, lean meats, healthy fat, and loads of vegetables and some fresh fruits. I tend to focus on fiber-rich whole grains, and we really don't have white rice or pasta very often. ALL THINGS IN MODERATION. 😊
In summary, Healthy Mexican-Inspired Roasted Cauliflower Rice is vegan, low carb, paleo, and keto, making it a great side dish when you're watching calories and carbs! Healthy Mexican food can definitely be a reality!
Why Roast Your Cauliflower "Rice?"
As I mention above, cauliflower "rice" is a low carb alternative to rice, but BEWARE! While it mimics the look of rice, and serves the same foundational purpose, the taste and texture are definitely NOT THE SAME. It is not my desire to fool anyone. LOL.
BUT. It is a flavorful and healthy substrate for all kinds of flavorful dishes. Take a look at Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowls for an ideal way to use this recipe. I have also used it in place of my Mexican Cilantro Rice when I make Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce. You can use it as a low carb side dish with any of your favorite Mexican mains, or in a burrito/wrap.
Most of the recipes on the internet sauté or steam the finely chopped fresh cauliflower. That's really okay, but I'm all about caramelization and maillard reaction. The process of roasting and caramelizing (in any food) amps up the flavor. Why settle for vanilla when you can get the complex flavors that only come with browning and
Making Roasted Cauliflower Rice
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As you see in the above photo, there are only a few ingredients... I can assume you have olive oil, sea salt, and pepper on hand right? Gathering the ingredients is ALWAYS the first step.
Cooking Steps Summary
Pairings and Suggestions
On photo day, I served my cauliflower "rice" with Salmon in Quick Green Mole Sauce ( Pipián Verde). This is a super healthy, flavorful quick meal, as the salmon dish requires less than 30 minutes. The Mexican flavors pair really well together, and both dishes are gluten free and fairly low carb.
When I wrote the recipe post for Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice Bowls, I wasn't thinking ahead to this recipe, but the cauliflower "rice" is prepared in exactly the same way. You can serve it mixed in with the other ingredients - black beans, corn, chaya or spinach, nopales - or on the side. The fresh toppings make this a stellar one-dish healthy and low carb meal!
These Latin Braised Turkey Thighs in Pepita Red Chile Sauce require more time than the previous 2 recipes, but for a weekend, I think you'll feel they're worth the time. Braising is
by far my preferred method for cooking less expensive/tough proteins. The flavor is unsurpassed. Bonus: These turkey thighs freeze beautifully!
Last (but NOT LEAST!), what beverage pairs well with the bold, spicy Mexican flavors? Our "go to" with Mexican food is a dry, crisp rosé. We occasionally have an Albariño or Pinot Grigios with lighter Mexican fare - especially if seafood based. For more on pairing wine with Mexican food, see What wines would you recommend serving with good Mexican food? from Wine Spectator.
If I'm in a craft beer sort of mood, I'm likely drinking a saison or a citrus IPA with the cauliflower rice and salmon in mole verde sauce, or a wheat beer with the cauliflower rice bowl. A Belgian dubbel is perfect with the turkey thighs. Think beyond the well-known Mexican lagers! For more on pairing craft beer, I like How to Pair Beer with Mexican Food from Serious Eats...
Riffs On Roasted Cauliflower Rice
- add pinions or pumpkin seeds for added texture
- omit the chipotle and add chopped green chile
- add dried cranberries, currants, or pomegranate arils
Trust me when I say, I still eat rice? Cauliflower "rice" cannot match the fluffy texture and fragrance of basmati, or the nuttiness of brown rice. However, it can have a meaningful and nutritious place in your healthy and well-balanced diet. Think of it as its own food, rather than an imitation of another...
If you make this recipe, I'd love feedback in the comment box below and/or a share on Pinterest! For more healthyish Latin-inspired recipes, follow me on Facebook or Pinterest, or subscribe to my newsletter. ❤️
- 1 large head cauliflower
- 1 tablespoon +/- olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (or to your taste)
- 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
- sea salt and ground pepper (to preference)
- chopped cilantro to garnish
- cotija or other cheese to garnish (optional not vegan or dairy free)
- Preheat the oven to 400°. Remove the core and leaves of the cauliflower. Cut the cauliflower into pieces, and place in the food processor. Pulse until the cauliflower is small and fine like rice. Watch carefully and do not over-process!
- Dump the cauliflower onto your baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, spices and garlic. Season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Mix with your hands to combine thoroughly. (If you don't like to mix with your hands, do the mixing in a bowl).
- Spread in a thin layer on the baking sheet, then place in preheated oven.
- After 5 minutes, give it all a stir.
- Remove from the oven when the "rice" is golden brown throughout. This typically takes another 5 minutes or so.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges, and serve.
After the first 5 minutes, keep a close eye on the cauliflower as you're looking for nice caramelization but not completely browned.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 99Total Fat: 6gCarbohydrates: 10gProtein: 4g