Monday, July 9, 2012

Mexican Rice Bowls

These Mexican "Rice" Bowls (emphasis on the "Rice") are made with stir-fried cauliflower. No rice here folks! But I promise, you will not miss the high-carb version. You will be shocked at the things you can do with cauliflower. I have tried rice, mash potatoes, even pizza crust. However, my favorite is making a stir-fry or "paella" with cauliflower. You will be surprised at how well it substitutes for a rice, and how well it absorbs all the flavors you incorporate to a dish. This time I did a Mexican version using roasted corn, black beans, lots of lime zest and fresh cilantro, and of course fresh seafood and even some chicken-apple sausage for some extra flavor. The flexibility of cauliflower rice is huge. You really only need to know the basics for making the "rice" and then you can have fun adding your favorite ingredients and flavors. Hope you enjoy this guilt-free dish!

1 head of cauliflower, trimmed and roughly cut into 4 or 5 segments
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green pepper, chopped
1/2 cup of celery chopped
3 tablespoons of chopped garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of butter substitute of choice such as Earth Balance or I can't believe it's not butter
1 15 ounce can of yellow corn (unsweetened)
1 15 ounce can of black beans
1/2 cup of sliced smoked sun dried tomatoes
1/2 pound of sea scallops
1 pound of peeled and deveined shrimp
3 links of chicken or turkey sausage of choice cut into slices (I used the fully cooked Apple Maple version from Al Fresco)
The zest of 3 limes
The juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup of chopped cilantro (if you aren't a cilantro fan as some people are not, use Italian flat leaf parsley)
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor add the cauliflower (one section at a time) and pulse until it's chopped into the consistency of  rice. (Do not over pulse/chop the cauliflower. You want it to have the right texture, and over chopping it will make is too mushy). Continue to chop the cauliflower one section at a time, adding the finished product to a separate large bowl. Put the cauliflower aside. Take the corn and add to an edged pan where it can be spread out evenly. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until the corn becomes fragrant and toasted a bit. In the meantime while the corn is roasting, take a large skillet over medium heat and add the two tablespoons of olive oil with the chopped garlic. Let cook for a minute and then add the chopped onion, green pepper and and celery. Cook until the veggies are softened and the onion is translucent. Add the cauliflower to the skillet and turn the heat up to medium-high. This part is important in achieving the perfect texture for the "rice". Add the 3 tablespoons of butter substitute and stir well. The cauliflower should start to brown up a little (even sticking to the bottom of the pan at times) but keep stirring. You don't want to add too much oil/butter because you lose the consistency of the rice and it will get too soft and mushy. After about 20 minutes when the cauliflower is fried up a bit, add the sausage, roasted corn, black beans and sun dried tomatoes. Keep stirring frequently. Add your lime zest, lime juice and cilantro. Season the scallops and shrimp with salt and pepper and add to the rice pot while stirring frequently. Let the seafood cook until the shrimps are pink (about another 10-15 minutes). Serve up the rice into individual bowls and top with some freshly sliced avocado. Enjoy!

*Side note: This is also great the next day in a gluten free tortilla wrap as a burrito or served cold in lettuce wraps!

For more on cauliflower rice, try my Mediterranean Paella :)

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