I’m never in the mood to give up rice, but if I”m going to get my blood sugar in place and lose about 15 pounds, the rice has got to go. I confess, I’m on an unhappy mission to exchange rice for vegetables and if I am going to be successful, I will have to come up with a satisfying alternative.
As a teen, I spent eight months in the Philippines where rice is eaten as an absolute staple. I got a kick out of being able to eat rice — at the table — by hand using thumb, pointer and middle fingers! More acceptable, and a habit that stuck with me, is eating rice with other ingredients using together a large spoon and fork.
My love of rice continued when, a decade later, I spent a few years in Mexico and then,a few decades later, nearly eight years in Panama. It’s a hardship for me, this idea of relinquishing my comforting, gluten-free, beloved rice. But I was feeling committed so here is what I came up with.
By now it’s common to use “riced” or finely processed cauliflower in place of real rice dishes. “Ricing” cauliflower is easy. You can purchase it in the store pre-ground, but it’s costly. I buy a head of white cauliflower, break it apart, pulverize it in a processor to about the consistency of rice. I store this in an air tight bag in the freezer or fridge. But cauliflower has to be jazzed up to be satisfying and I have found that Lemon or Lime Zest is a terrific addition that brightens up many dishes.
Below is how I prepared this zesty, and surprisingly satisfying “rice alternative” dish. Vegans will want to replace my use of parmesan cheese with a vegan alternative. But other than that … have at it! It’s fast and easy. Use it alone, as a side dish, play with it by adding meats or even a gravy.
ZESTY RICE ALTERNATIVE
- Into a hot, large-bottom pan with good surface area, and using no oil or water so it won’t get mushy, stir 2 Cups “Riced” cauliflower on high heat until most of the moisture vaporizes, about 4 minutes. You will be able to watch the steam rise up and away.
- Turn off the heat and then add:
1 tsp lemon juice or about the juice of half a lemon.
1/8 to 1/4 grated lemon or lime rind (I used lime rind). This adds so much brightness!
Salt to taste
1/4 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese (vegans use a substitute)
8 – 10 Loosely chopped, fresh basil leaves.
- Mix all this together, add a little Earth Balance vegan butter (or the real thing) and eat it up!
TIPS: For kids, try adding mild cheddar and Half & Half to give it a Mac ‘n Cheese feel. Mix in grill chicken bits. Play with it. It’s versatile!