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.
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:
- 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.
- Add the slices of mandarin orange and cook over medium heat until softened, about 15 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the lentils to the pan and reheat the whole.
- Add the reserved liquid from the mandarin oranges and the lemon juice. Taste for salt and turn out to a serving dish.
- 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.
How have you used cauliflower to replace rice or pasta or couscous? I’d love to hear other ideas.