Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mediterranean Dirty "Rice"

If you can't tell, I'm a big fan of cauliflower. I like to mash it (with and without sweet potatoes). I use cauliflower to thicken soup. I whip it into hummus. And I chop it up fine to make paleo fried "rice."

The fried "rice" recipe is one of my favorites, actually. And it's one that always earns compliments from CB. So when I was brainstorming sides that would go well with my Banana Pepper Pulled Beef, cauliflower "rice" immediately came to mind. Only, plain-old roasted/chopped cauliflower wouldn't do. I had to make something that could stand up for itself next to the bright flavor of the banana peppers.

Enter dirty rice (the concept).

Dirty rice is a mixture of rice cooked with meat and veggies. Besides bringing a ton of flavor to the lunch box, dirty rice gives you the opportunity to add even more vegetables to your diet. And if the veggies and seasoning are well-chosen, it can be a perfect side-dish to accompany any protein.

Banana peppers always bring Greek salad to mind. So, for this version, I pulled together my other favorite Mediterranean flavors to dress up the "rice."

Mediterranean Dirty "Rice"

OK. So my olives are a little more "rough" than "chopped."

Ingredients

2 heads cauliflower, cut into florets
1 small eggplant, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 12 oz jar kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cauliflower florets with 2 tablespoons olive oil and arrange on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. Roast at 400 degrees until the cauliflower is tender. About 30 minutes.

While the cauliflower is roasting, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onion and eggplant and season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat until eggplant is tender and onions begin to caramelize. Add olives, lemon juice, basil, and garlic powder. Stir to combine. Remove from heat and set aside.

Once the cauliflower is done cooking. Remove from oven and let cool enough to touch. Once cool, roughly chop the cauliflower into rice-sized pieces. Return the pieces to the baking sheet. Pour the onion-eggplant-olive mixture over the cauliflower and combine well (it's easiest to just use your hands). Makes 8 servings.

Note: If you're not keeping it super-strict, you also could add a cup of feta to your mixture, right at the end.

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