For Epicurious, by Becky Hughes.
In the throes of every health trend — Whole 30, Paleo, keto, and the like — we’ve offered solutions for every possible restriction. We’ve replaced toast with sweet potato slices, used sunflower seeds to make risotto, carved pasta out of zucchini, and baked bread made from eggs and yogurt.
One replacement food in particular seems to have more staying power than the rest. In fact, you’ve probably seen it popping up at Trader Joe’s and in the freezer aisle — of course, we’re talking about cauliflower rice, the low-carb rice substitute that has taken supermarkets by storm. We trial-and-error-ed our way to the best method for the cruciferous white rice replacement, and now we’re stepping it up. Why not make rice out of broccoli? Sweet potatoes? Beets?
Fact is, you can make “rice” out of all sorts of firm vegetables, from cruciferous ones like cauliflower, cabbage, and broccoli (including the stems), to sweet root vegetables like carrots, beets, and sweet potato, and of course winter squash like butternut (peeled first, of course). And the results are such a delicious rice substitute, with so much more flavor than plain white rice, that they almost made us forget about actual rice for a minute. With this technique, the world is your grain-free oyster. Here’s how to turn (pretty much) any vegetable into rice:
1. GRATE THE VEGETABLE
Cut your desired hard vegetables into pieces that are small enough to fit through the feeder tube of your food processor. Using the grating disk on the food processor, blitz your desired firm vegetables into rice-grain-sized pieces. You can also do this using the normal blade, making sure to pulse carefully and scrape down the sides of the food processor between pulses.
Another option: Create rice-like pieces with a box grater — just scrape your vegetable of choice against the side of the box grater with the medium-size holes.
2. COOK IT IN THE MICROWAVE
After a whole lot of testing, we discovered that the best way to cook riced vegetable is actually in the microwave. Just dump your riced veg into a bowl, mix in a tablespoon of olive oil, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and pop it in the microwave for around 3 minutes, depending on the power of your microwave. Starchier vegetables like sweet potatoes and squash, might need longer than cauliflower or broccoli—if the veg isn’t thoroughly cooked after 3 minutes, continue microwaving in 30-second bursts, stirring between bursts, until cooked through.
3. USE IT IN PLACE OF RICE
Riced vegetables make a great base for “rice” bowls, but they can also be used in place of grains in risotto, tabbouleh, and sushi. You can also use them to lighten up pizza crust or fritters — or just keep it casual and throw them into soups and salads. With a method that’s this simple and good for you, there’s no way you can go wrong.
Need a visual? Here’s how we make cauliflower rice — just sub in a vegetable of your choice.
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