Cauliflower Vegetable Fried Rice

Cauliflower-Vegetable Fried Rice

In preparation for a recent virtual cooking class for a beautiful local farm, my client asked me to submit a list of ideas that would be vetted by the registrants. I thought I’d keep things pretty veggie-centric, focusing on sheet pan suppers, which are still quite popular with most people. After all, what’s not appealing about getting dinner cooked all at once in one pan?

To bulk up my list, I thought I’d submit my Cauliflower-Vegetable Fried Rice, which I developed several years back when cauliflower rice was all the rage. To my surprise, that’s the recipe they chose. I seriously thought people were done with cauliflower rice anything, but, apparently, I was wrong.

I hadn’t made this dish in quite a while, so I decided to retest the recipe to see what I thought about it and if it withstood the test of time. OK, there’s something you should know about me. My philosophy is that there’s always room for improvement and that nothing is ever perfect. And as my culinary journey continues, the more I learn, the more I grow and change. The same goes for recipes. Although I still thought the dish was pretty good, I made some updates, along with new a new method for reaching an improved texture and mouthfeel for the “rice.”

The class seemed pretty happy with the outcome, and for me, that says it all.

Here’s my updated recipe. Give it a try and let me know how you like it.

Cauliflower-Vegetable Fried Rice

Serves two as a main, 4 as a side

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 2-1/2 lb.)
  • 3 Tbs. peanut oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped sweet onion (about 5 oz.)
  • 2 Tbs. grated garlic (about 6 to 8 large cloves)
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 7 oz. store-bought baked tofu, cut into ½-inch dice
  • 1 cup shelled edamame, defrosted if frozen (about 5-3/4 oz.)
  • 1 Tbs. minced jalapeno, more to taste
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped red bell pepper (about 2 oz.)
  • 2 large eggs, very lightly scrambled
  • 1 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce or tamari, more to taste
  • 2 Tbs. coarsely chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup very thinly sliced celery (about 1 oz.)
  • 2 Tbs. scallions, green parts only
  • 2 Tbs. toasted sesame seeds, for garnish

Preparation

Position a rack in the top third of the oven (about 5 to 6-inches from the top) and heat to 450°F.

Trim off and discard the green leaves of the cauliflower. Coarsely chop into uniform pieces that will comfortably fit in a food processor. Put the cauliflower in the food processor in batches, and pulse until it becomes a rice-like consistency, 12 to 15 pulses. Put the cauliflower rice on a large, rimmed baking sheet after processing, setting 1 cup aside. Pat cauliflower on the baking sheet dry with paper towels.

Toss the cauliflower on the baking sheet with 1 Tbs. of the oil and 1 tsp. salt, then spread evenly on the sheet. Roast until golden with some dark brown bits, tossing the cauliflower and scraping the pan every 10 minutes, 25 to 30 minutes total. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and set aside.

Swirl the remaining 2 Tbs. of the oil in a large nonstick skillet or wok over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the onion and cook until it begins to soften and turn translucent, stirring occasionally, about 1-1/2 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tofu, edamame, and jalapeno, stirring occasionally, until warmed through, about 2 minutes. Add the bell pepper and continue to cook, about 30 seconds more. Add the roasted cauliflower and the eggs, stirring occasionally until the eggs are cooked through, and the mixture is well combined about, 2 minutes.

Remove from the heat and add the reserved cup of raw cauliflower, the sesame oil, vinegar, and soy sauce, and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt or more soy sauce, if you like. Transfer to a serving platter, top with the cilantro, celery, scallion greens, and sesame seeds.

As a side note, if you don’t want to make your own cauliflower rice, you can buy it already riced in the refrigerated section at popular markets like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. There’s also a frozen version but be sure to defrost before using it for this recipe. If you go this route, you’ll need 6 to 7 cups total of riced cauliflower. 

Giving credit where credit is due: Fabulous food styling by Samantha Seneviratne, exquisite photography by Julia Gartland.

–Chef Diana

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