December in the kitchen – Red lentil and cauliflower couscous

Lately I have been reading a lot about substituting cauliflower for rice and couscous in recipes. The substitution is popular in paleo circles as well as with folks trying to cut down on carbohydrates (useful after the holidays). It seems to me that any way you can add more vegetables to your diet is a good thing.

This recipe combines the cauliflower “couscous” with lentils and preserved mandarin oranges. It can be served hot, room temperature, or cold as a salad with some tasty greens on the side. This could even be the main dish for a vegetarian meal, it’s gluten free and vegan.

Red Lentils and Cauliflower Couscous

Red Lentils and Cauliflower Couscous

Cauliflower Couscous with Red Lentils and Easy Preserved Mandarins    (serves 4)

  • 2 mandarin oranges, sliced thinly
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of coconut oil
  • 1 small cauliflower, “riced” in a food processor
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • ½ red onion, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¼ cup almonds, sliced scallions, and chopped cilantro for garnish

Preserved Mandarin Oranges:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the sugar and 1½ teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of pepper; stir until the sugar and salt dissolve.
  2. Add the slices of mandarin orange and cook over medium heat until softened, about 15 minutes.
  3. Transfer the orange slices to a plate and boil the remaining liquid until reduced to 1/3 cup; it will take about 3 minutes. Let cool, then whisk in ¼ cup of olive oil. Set aside.

Cauliflower Couscous

  1. Break the cauliflower into medium sized pieces and add to the food processor, pulse the machine until the cauliflower resembles couscous. You may need to do this in batches. Don’t over process.
cauliflower rice

Cauliflower couscous or rice

Red Lentils

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, add the lentils and cook over medium heat until tender but not mushy, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat a frying pan on medium heat; add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot and beginning to shimmer, add the onion and sauté until beginning to soften, about 10 minutes.
  1. Add the cauliflower to the pan, increase the heat to medium high and sauté, stirring constantly, until the cauliflower is beginning to soften and brown. It should retain some texture and still be crisp.
  2. Add the lentils to the pan and reheat the whole.
  3. Add the reserved liquid from the mandarin oranges and the lemon juice. Taste for salt and turn out to a serving dish.
  4. Serve garnished with almonds, the slices of mandarin orange, scallions, and chopped cilantro.

I served this with the marmalade chicken. It was a great combination with the pilaf coming together while the chicken was in the oven.

Cauliflower couscous

Cauliflower couscous

How have you used cauliflower to replace rice or pasta or couscous? I’d love to hear other ideas.

4 thoughts on “December in the kitchen – Red lentil and cauliflower couscous

  1. I basically use cauliflower rice to prepare Paleo versions of both Chinese egg-fried rice, as well as an Indian pilau rice, both of which are utterly divine. 🙂

    Swedish supermarket chain ICA are so switched on they’ve even started to sell pre-prepared cauliflower rice. Demand has so far easily outstripped supply, and they’re struggling to keep up – it literally flies off the shelf, with any new batches usually sold out well before lunch the same day.

      • We were wondering about risotto too, but thought that it might not work – we were thinking that the starch from the Arborio rice is so important to the sauce, and of course it wouldn’t be there with the cauliflower…

        We’re still thinking about maybe having a crack at cauliflower rice paella though… 🙂

      • I’ve seen recipes on the internet where the cauliflower risotto looks creamy, but I would worry about it being mushy as well as the lack of starch. Paella, now that sounds interesting! Let me know how it works out, I look forward to your post.

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