Cauliflower has become one of my favorite vegetables. With its “riced” form, readily available almost anywhere, it has become even easier to cook. Because of its mild flavor, there are virtually unlimited options to keep this cruciferous vegetable interesting.
As I have gotten older, I have had to modify how and what I eat. Sadly, calories just do not come off the way they once did. Cauliflower has played a bigger role in my diet due to its low-calorie, high fiber and low glycemic impact. I guess you could say that I’m a bit addicted to the stuff. So this dish was inspired by my turning a new dietary leaf a few years ago. It incorporates a combination of foods and flavors I love. It is also a simple, healthy, non labor-intensive, “clean” recipe.
My older son loves simple oven roasted cauliflower with olive oil and sea salt, which I make often. But when I add more flavors and textures, my younger one is a lot more willing to dig in. My little one also loves leeks, thanks to a fun summer cooking camp he went to a few years ago. The class was taught by a good friend of mine at The Festive Table. Since that class, he has loved, leeks, scallions and onions, and I could not be more thrilled. I added leeks to this recipe because they are a great vegetable, available from Fall to Spring, often underutilized in recipes if you ask me.
Leeks are related to garlic and onions so they have some similar flavors, but they are milder and sweeter. And leeks are a great way to add subtle flavor to a recipe without overpowering it. In this recipe, the leeks complement the earthy, crunchy, walnuts just perfectly to me.
The secret to cooking riced cauliflower is high heat. You want to almost shock it a bit, help the water evaporate and allow for some nice coloration (even crispness) to develop. It does not take long to obtain this beautiful coloration, so be watchful and don’t let it burn. Lemon juice, zest and baby kale round out this hearty side dish making it a great vegetarian meal option alone. And, although I refer to this as a side dish, the truth is, this is the type of dish I love to eat by itself, it has many of my favorite flavors all mixed in.
Riced Cauliflower With Leeks Kale And Walnuts
- 2 leeks, cleaned, sliced in quarters lengthwise and minced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 3 tablespoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 (16-ounce) bag riced or crumbled cauliflower
- 1/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3 cups packed fresh baby kale, roughly chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley leaves, minced
- 1 bunch chives, finely chopped
- Step 1 Place a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and when hot, but not smoking, add the leeks and saute, stirring occasionally for about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to cook for an additional 30 seconds, until fragrant. Remove from the heat, place in a mixing bowl and set aside.
- Step 2 Using a paper towel, wipe out the sauté pan and place it back on the stove over medium-high heat. Add in the remaining two tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the cauliflower, salt and pepper and sauté till tender and you begin to see some light brown coloration, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add to the leek-garlic mixture.
- Step 3 To the cauliflower-leek mixture add the walnuts, chopped baby kale, lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley, and chives. Mix well to incorporate. Serve warm.
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