Taking the mystery and fear out of cooking
If you are not familiar with cauliflower rice, allow me to explain. It contains no rice. It just looks like rice. It is made from the dry, knobbly parts that make the ‘flower’ bit of cauliflower.
The fact that it can be used in place of real rice means that if you are avoiding carbohydrates (rice, pasta, potatoes) for weight reasons, there is a vegetable alternative. And the beauty of it is, cauliflower doesn’t have a strong flavor, which makes pretending even easier.
Here we are teaming it with a juicy, savoury mushroom dish and the result is cheap, easy and suitable for vegetarians.
First the ‘rice’. There are several ways of doing this, but they all start with turning the cauli into rice.
Cut all the stalk off the bottom, much more severely than you would for cauliflower cheese. Cut the whole thing in half and take a big spike-shaped chunk out of the middle, then work on the smaller bits. You want to be left with knobbly balls of the flowery bits – they’re called florets. These are dry, while the stalk contains moisture – and that is the last thing we need here.
Cut individual florets or break them off with your hands and then cut the mini stalks off.
What happens next depends on the quality and sophistication of your kitchen equipment. If you have a flashy food processor you can reduce this to rice easily.
With a less expensive, basic blender, put the florets in and blitz them. You may find yourself shaking the thing about or prodding the cauli with a wooden spoon to uncake it and expose it to the blades.
If this seems like hard work, think of it as a DIY job. Sometimes you have to wreck something before you can fix the situation.
The lower end of the scale, if you don’t have a blender, is to grate the florets by hand. With a bit of care, this may in fact be the most effective method of all.
Eventually you will have something white (ish) and grainy that looks a bit like rice but more like couscous.
METHOD (THE RICE)
You could simply put it in the microwave for a minute or two on high. That would cook it but it will probably be a bit mushy, clumpy.
You could put a thin (1cm) layer in a baking tray, mix in a little olive oil and bake it for 20 minutes on 200.
Or, and this is probably the best, take a big frying pan and dry fry it – i.e. no oil. Just get the pan nice and hot and give the cauli a fright for ten minutes, stirring and shaking to make sure it’s done evenly and doesn’t burn. You can tart it up later.
METHOD (THE MUSHROOMS)
Choose the tastiest variety you can find. The little white ones will do if there is nothing else, but brown ones have more flavor. The big ones the size of your hand are not really for this – they’re like substitute steaks.
Slice the mushrooms up quite thin, a quarter of a centimeter or so.
Chop some onions and garlic and fry them gently until the onions are soft. Add the mushrooms and cook them gently, sprinkling them with celery salt, ground black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. When the mushrooms are soft and succulent, splosh in a little red wine(just a glug), the same amount of water and half a vegetable stock cube. Cook, stirring occasionally, for another five minutes.
Serve the ‘rice’ in a pile with a dip in the middle, where you pile in the mushrooms.
So you’ve got vegetables, the appearance of rice, and some simple and delicious mushrooms with a tasty gravy.