Mexican-style Cauliflower Rice

Mexican-style Cauliflower Rice

Spoiler alert - I love Mexican food. While I love to travel and try every type of ethnic food I can get my hands on, I was raised in Southern California, a true melting pot of flavorful, colorful foods from so a variety of world cuisines. I grew up just a few hours from the Mexican border; while I grew up a predominately Italian household, I was constantly exposed to a world of unique flavors, predominately with Latin American influences. I have a fondness for Mexican food, so throughout my adventures in clean eating, I have tried to incorporate the flavors of my childhood into my adult cooking. I will be honest with you, this Mexican-style rice is entirely made up from memories of watching my mom in the kitchen and elements of a paleo philosophy. But it was well worth the experiment, and so full of flavor I forgot I wasn't actually using rice, but rather cauliflower. The satisfying flavor combinations left me basically licking the bowl, I could not get enough of it.

1 head of cauliflower, riced

1 small carrot, finely chopped

1/4 small white onion

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 small jalapeno (remove seeds if you want to reduce the heat of the pepper), finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

Juice from one small lime

1 teaspoon dried cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano (or 2-3 leaves finely chopped fresh oregano)

1/4 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves (or use fresh leaves, 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro)

Salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, rice the cauliflower using the rice attachment and set aside. Chop the carrots, onion and jalapeno and set into a bowl together (you will be cooking them all at the same time so it is ok that they all sit together in a bowl). Put the olive oil in a non-stick pan, heating the pan over medium heat. Toss the carrots, jalepeno, onion and garlic into the hot pan and cook for about 4-6 minutes to your desired crunchy texture. 

MEG'S TIP: Full disclosure, when I made this recipe, my food processor decided it no longer wanted to be of this world, so I had to make due with the Trader Joe's frozen cauliflower rice. I always support using fresh vegetables, but the TJ frozen cauliflower rice works GREAT in a pinch.

Once your veggies are cooked, put the tomato paste into the pan, and add the cumin, oregano, pepper, salt and cilantro leaves. Stir constantly for about 2 minutes so all the veggies are coated in the spices and tomato paste. Once well coated, add the cauliflower rice to the pan and add the lime juice. Liquid from the cauliflower will render out, so you do not need to add chicken broth (plus there is liquid being added in the form of the lime juice). 

Cook the 'rice' for 5-7 minutes. Remove from pan and top with green onions. 

MEG'S AFTERTHOUGHTS: I truly made this recipe up on the fly based on memories of my mother slow cooking Mexican-style rice for 5-6 hours on very low heat in the oven. All told, this recipe took me maybe 15 minutes to make and I topped it off with pulled pork, green onions and chopped cherry tomatoes. This recipe made about 3.5 meals for me, so my lunches for the rest of the week are ready to go.  

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