Cauliflower “Couscous”

These days so many people are avoiding wheat or gluten. My mother and I are both sensitive to gluten, so we eat foods containing it sparingly, and often look for gluten-free versions of ingredients such as pasta. That’s why when a friend introduced me to the idea to make a mock couscous out of cauliflower (an idea she got from Chef Eric Ripert), my ears perked up. Cauliflower couscous? Why not? Of course nothing beats true, steamed to perfection, durum wheat couscous. But for those of us avoiding wheat, cauliflower couscous is a tasty and practical solution.

Making cauliflower couscous couldn’t be easier. You just grind up fresh cauliflower florets in a food processor until they resemble couscous. Steam the cauliflower in just enough water to coat the bottom of a pan. Then lightly sauté some nuts, fruit, and onions and toss with the “couscous”. It tastes great! And it’s vegan. Consider it for a Thanksgiving side if you have guests who are vegetarian or gluten-free.

  • Prep: 15 minutes
  • Cook: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 as a side.

Here we present 2 versions of cauliflower "couscous", one with rosemary, lemon zest, almonds, raisins, celery, and apple, the other with orange zest, dried sweetened cranberries, walnuts, green onion, and apple. You could use any combination you want of sweet (raisins, craisins, apple, pear), tangy (lemon zest, orange zest), allium (garlic, green onion, shallots), and nutty (almonds, walnuts, pine nuts, pecans).

Ingredients

  • 1 head cauliflower, cored, broken into florets
  • 1/2 cup water (more or less depending on the size of your pan)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Mix-ins Version 1

  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery
  • 2/3 cup of sliced green onion (green part only)
  • 1 large red apple, cored and diced (peel can stay on)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Mix-ins Version 2

  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried, sweetened cranberries (could also use fresh pomegranate arils)
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 large apple, cored and diced (peel can stay on)

Method

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1 Place cauliflower florets into a food processor. Pulse several times until the cauliflower looks like a coarse meal, resembling traditional couscous.

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2 Cover the bottom of a large sauté pan with a thin layer of water. Add salt, zest, and an aromatic herb such as rosemary, if using. Bring to a simmer, stir. Add the ground cauliflower to the pot, spreading it out in an even layer. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to the lowest possible simmer setting. Cover the pan and cook/steam for 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove cauliflower to a sheet pat to cool.

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3 Heat olive oil in a medium sized non-stick sauté pan on medium heat. Add the chopped nuts and cook until the nuts begin to brown slightly. If using celery, add the celery and continue to cook until the celery is lightly softened, about 2 to 3 minutes. Then Add the green onions, raisins or dried cranberries, and diced apple to the pan, and stir to warm through.

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4 Place cauliflower and nut apple mixture into a serving bowl and gently stir to combine. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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