As a general rule, I don’t believe in foods pretending to be things they aren’t. All these gluten-free, paleo, agave-nectar-filled recipes claiming to be healthier versions of brownies or breads or other things that are now bad for us, hold no allure for me whatsoever. (Except these delicious healthy muffins I make!)
There are, however, those rare occasions when the substitute recipe actually turns out just as delicious, if not more so, than the thing it purports to replace. This was the case when I (somewhat reluctantly) tried a recipe for tabbouleh, replacing the traditional carb-filled bulgur wheat with carb-friendly riced cauliflower. Because if there is any substitute I can get on board with, it is cauliflower.
You know me, I love cauliflower, and will put it in just about anything. I had long been leary of of ricing cauliflower though – grating the florets with a cheese grater to achieve a rice-like substance – thanks to the Cauliflower Pizza Crust Disaster of 2009. (Let’s just say that there were tears involved, and I spent the evening scraping cheesy cauliflower bits off my pizza pan.) That epic failure is probably what started my aversion to substitutions and foods moonlighting as other foods. It took me 5+ years to build up the courage to try ricing cauliflower again… and I’m so glad I did!
Cauliflower “rice” works perfectly in tabbouleh, a traditional middle eastern side salad, filled with refreshing herbs, lemon, and cucumber. The only slight difference in this recipe is in texture: whereas bulgur is sort of chewy, cauliflower is more crunchy. Honestly, the flavors are very comparable, and I might even like this version better than the original! And, like most of the dishes, I share, it comes together in a flash. I hope you enjoy!
Low-Carb Cauliflower Tabbouleh
- 2 cups riced cauliflower
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup good olive oil
- 1.5 cups lightly packed fresh parsley, chopped
- 2 tsp – 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh dill, chopped*
- 2 tsp chopped fresh mint*
- 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions, white and green parts
- 2 tomatoes, diced (I used a pepper, as tomatoes were out of season)
*I didn’t have mint and I adore dill so I added it in; feel free to experiment. The parsley is what’s most important!
How to Rice Cauliflower
Ricing cauliflower is super easy – just grate the florets against the bigger holes of a cheese grater. True, the little cauliflower bits fly everywhere, but doing it on a wide flexible cutting board makes it easier to corral them. A big cluster of florets – about the size of your hand – will yield about 1 cup “rice.” Only grate the florets, not the stems; reserve the stems for use in a later recipe – roasting, a soup, even a curry. Once you’ve got 2 cups of rice, you’re ready to assemble the tabbouleh!
Whisk the garlic, salt, lemon juice, and olive oil in your salad bowl. Add in the riced cauliflower and toss to coat. Add in the fresh herbs and veggies, mix well, and let sit in the fridge or on the counter for about 30 minutes so the flavors meld. Serve and enjoy!
This dish keeps well and only tastes better the next day. You can make it a main dish by adding in roasted chicken, chickpeas, or beans, for a perfect take-to-work lunch.