Ask Chef Phyllis:
It’s popular today to make pizza crust out of cauliflower rice, and I’ve seen it for sale in the produce section of my supermarket. I’ve tried sneaking vegetables into many of my children’s favorite foods, such as mac and cheese, with some success. Though cauliflower rice worked, cauliflower pizza crust didn’t fool them. I need some ideas that work. They like fried rice and pasta. I also need a recipe for the Paleo diet I’m doing in this new year. Thanks.
—Pauline Gallup from Kalamazoo, MI
Hi Pauline. Thank you for writing in about this hot item. It seems to be on everyone’s mind these days—not to mention in most supermarkets. I recently saw a nutritionist on the morning news talking about the cauliflower hack for mac and cheese. She said it was a great way to add nutrients to a classic recipe without your kids knowing—just place raw cauliflower in the boiling water before you add the pasta, and then puree it before adding it into the mac. I shook my head…when did it come to this? As for me, simply introducing the vegetable early in their lives is a better option.
Cauliflower is a vegetable from my Italian heritage. We often made it in the French style, and my family served and enjoyed it for decades. The message is, I grew up on it.
Well, today healthy-ish is in! Paleo is in! And cauliflower is in!
I’m grateful and lucky to have been exposed to all kinds of foods from a very early age. Recently, I made a dish for a new man in my life. He stood at my counter watching as I cooked it. After his first taste, he couldn’t get enough of it, and he kept eating before it had cooled enough to not burn his mouth. Yes, it was that good!
But if your children won’t eat something, you’re wasting your time. I have a recipe for rice cauliflower pilaf and another for cauliflower a la Francaise that I’m sure they’ll want to eat.
It’s often more expensive to buy pre-prepared ingredients such as cut up fruits and vegetables from the supermarket, and riced cauliflower may fall into this category. However, if you don’t have a food processor, do buy the packaged product. If you do have a food processor, see my instructions below and freeze what you don’t use. It’s easy enough.
Food processor riced cauliflower: Cut a whole head of cauliflower into 2-inch flowerets. Place some of the flowerets in the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles rice, but do not pulverize. Repeat until all are done. To store, freeze in Ziploc bags (with most of the air removed) for about 1 month.
Rice-Cauliflower Pilaf (That Your Kids Will Like)
3 tablespoons butter
4 scallions, white and green parts finely diced
2 (8–10 oz.) packages cauliflower rice (or make your own with a food processor)
½ cup sliced almonds (or any nut you prefer)
¼ cup raisins or dried cranberries
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add scallions and cook for about 5 minutes, or until limp.
- Add cauliflower rice a little at a time, stirring well to coat. (It will cook quickly.)
- Add almonds, raisins or cranberries, salt, red pepper if using, and cinnamon. Serve like fried rice.
Sautéed Cauliflower a la Francaise (Paleo Approved)
4–5 large eggs, beaten
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon Sriracha sauce or red pepper flakes
½ teaspoon or more freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil, for frying (do not use extra virgin)
1 head cauliflower, broken into 1-inch flowerets (about 40 pieces)
Marinara sauce (optional)
Horseradish sauce (optional)
- Preheat oven to 250°F. Combine beaten eggs, Parmesan, Sriracha or red pepper flakes, and pepper in a mixing bowl.
- Heat olive oil in a medium frying pan.
- Dip about 8–10 pieces of cauliflower (or as many as the pan can hold at one time) into the egg-cheese mixture. When the oil ripples, add them to pan. Do not turn the pieces until golden on the first side, about 3–4 minutes.
- Turn the pieces over and sauté other side. Place fried cauliflower pieces in a heatproof pan and keep warm in the oven. Repeat until all the cauliflower has been finished.
- Serve with Marinara or horseradish sauce, or any other sauce of your choice if desired.