Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Garlic Shrimp

Cooking for TwoQuick and EasyCauliflowerShrimp

Cauliflower rice bowls are a filling, low-carb, vegetable-and protein-packed weeknight dinner for two. The cauliflower is mild, so it doesn’t compete with the garlicky shrimp in this dish.

Photography Credit: Sally Vargas | Art Banner Credit: Elena Resko

Our “Cooking for Two” series is all about those of us who love good food but need smaller batches. Maybe you’re single, or coupled but with no kids (no kids, before kids, after kids). Whatever the reason, you don’t necessarily want a lot of leftovers hanging around. We had you in mind when we developed these recipes.

When you have two at the table, this cauliflower rice with shrimp steps in to give you dinner in under 30 minutes. You can’t argue with that!

A tasty, low-carb meal has got to be on the top of your list for weeknight suppers. The emphasis here is on tasty.

Cauliflower rice—finely chopped raw cauliflower that looks like a grain—works as a great backdrop for the other fresh flavors in this recipe. It gets a hefty shot of lemon, both zest and juice, plus a bonus of barely wilted spinach and cherry tomatoes.

Topped off with garlicky shrimp, this weeknight dinner has a huge yum factor.

A horizontal poto of cauliflower rice and shrimp. A green napkin is to the left and a water glass to the right. Above the glass is a second bowl in partial view.

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WHERE TO GET CAULIFLOWER RICE

Cauliflower rice has become a popular replacement for grains for people who have allergies, or who just want to lower their starchy grain intake. You can either buy it already riced in the frozen foods section or make it yourself.

  • Ready-Made: Supermarkets caught up quickly to this trend, and you can often find it in the produce section with prepped produce or packaged in the freezer. It’s one less step, so if you are in a hurry, by all means, make it your default position.
  • Make It Yourself: It’s dead easy to make it yourself with a food processor and some coarsely chopped cauliflower.
  • Freeze It: If you are ambitious, or just have a giant head of cauliflower you can’t use all at once, take it from the food processor to the airtight freezer container of your choice. It will keep well in the freezer for up to a couple of months.

Shrimp and cauliflower rice in a white bowl with herbs and avocado sices. A second bowl identical bowl is in the background.

HOW TO BUY SHRIMP

Since ‘fresh’ shrimp is pretty much nonexistent because almost all shrimp are frozen immediately after harvest, I almost always pick up frozen shrimp.

That shrimp in the seafood case at the supermarket? It is simply frozen shrimp that has been defrosted.

Shrimp is quite perishable, and there’s no way to know how long ago it was thawed. For that reason, I like to buy frozen shrimp and defrost it myself when it’s time to cook. Just plunk it in a bowl of cold water for 15 minutes and it will be ready to cook.

For this recipe, I prefer jumbo (21/25 per pound) shrimp to small ones, because I like the statement they make on the plate (and there are fewer to peel, too!).

A shallow bowl of garlic shrimp cauliflower rice with a napkin and fork to the left. Sauteed shrimp and herbs are visible in the bowl.

WAYS TO ADAPT CAULIFLOWER SHRIMP BOWLS

  • Swap the cauliflower rice: You can swap out any cooked grain you like in this recipe if you’re not in a cauliflower kind of mood, or just want to switch it up.
  • Swap the greens: I used baby spinach here, but kale or Swiss chard would make a nice change.
  • Swap the shrimp: I can imagine topping this with canned tuna, or some leftover sliced meat like steak or pork chops. Pretty soon you’ll have a whole other dish, but that’s the beauty of cooking!
  • Double it? Yes, please do! It would make an easy, simple meal worthy of sharing with friends.

MORE GREAT BOWL RECIPES

Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Garlic Shrimp Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Cook time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings

This recipe is easily doubled if you'd like to make more servings.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 3 cups frozen cauliflower rice, store-bought or homemade
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves (about 2 cups, packed)
  • 8 cherry tomatoes, halved, or quartered if large
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 8 to 10 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced (for garnish)

Method

1 Cook the onion and cauliflower rice: In a large skillet over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil shimmers, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until the onion softens.

Add the cauliflower rice and 1/4 cup water to the skillet. Cook, stirring often, for 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower loses its raw taste. Stir in 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.

3 Add the spinach and cherry tomatoes: Stir the spinach into the cauliflower and cook for 3 minutes, or until the spinach barely wilts. Stir in the tomatoes. Taste and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Remove from the heat and set aside while you cook the shrimp.

Cauliflower rice, spinach, basil and tomatoes in a high sided wok.

4 Cook the shrimp: In a nonstick skillet large enough to accommodate the shrimp in one layer, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic. Set the skillet over medium heat and cook for about 30 seconds, or just until the garlic sizzles. (Start by heating the garlic and oil at the same time in a cold pan to prevent the garlic from burning.)

Add the shrimp in one layer. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, or until the shrimp is opaque in the center. (Exact cooking time depends on the size of the shrimp.)

Remove the pan from the heat and sprinkle with the paprika. Stir in the remaining 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice and the parsley. Turn the shrimp to coat it well in the lemony, garlicky oil.

Large shrimp cooking in a non-stick skillet and covered with herbs.

5 Assemble the bowls: In two shallow bowls, divide the cauliflower rice. Top each with half the shrimp and garnish with slices of avocado. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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Sally Vargas

Sally Pasley Vargas is a freelance writer and the author of three cookbooks (Food for Friends, The Tao of Cooking, Ten Speed Press, and The Cranberry Cookbook). She currently writes the column The Confident Cook for The Boston Globe along with seasonal recipes for the Wednesday Food Section.

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One Comment

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Did you make it? Rate it!

  1. michelle

    The hubby and I loved this! I

    xxxxxyyyyy

Two white plates on a white table with a stack of forks and knives to the right. Each plate has large shrimp, avocado slices, herbs and cauliflower rice inside.Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Garlic Shrimp