Lemony Roasted Cauliflower

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Lemony Roasted Cauliflower, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Cauliflower is the king of the vegetable world, and beloved by millions who follow the plant-based or vegan diet. It’s also loved by paleo diet eaters, and of course many, many others. What makes cauliflower versatile is the fact that it is mild enough on its own, which allows it to carry many different flavors. For example, you can make a lovely Cauliflower Buffalo Wings and Cauliflower Pizza Crust, as well as a great Cauliflower Basmati Rice or pasta shells stuffed with cauliflower ricotta. You must agree that this is quite a range for a single ingredient!

This dish is a simple yet delicious side dish or a quick lunch. It tastes great warm as well as cold, so you will be able to make the most out of your leftovers. The dish does take some time to make – roasting cauliflower can take up to 45 minutes. But, trust me: roasting is the way to go. Although you could boil the cauliflower the flavor will not be the same, so just don’t go there.

The rest of the ingredient list is simple and straightforward. Pine nuts add nice toastiness and crunch to the dish, garlic give it the aroma, and lemon juice and zest make this dish light and full of sunshine. Of course, a dash of basil never hurts!!!

Lemony Roasted Cauliflower

What you’ll need:

2 heads of cauliflower, florets only

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

3 oz (185 g) pine nuts

1 lemon, rind and juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 teaspoons basil, dry (or 2 tablespoons fresh, finely chopped)

What you’ll do:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 F (220 C).
  2. Wash the cauliflower, and cut out the florets only (you can use the leftover cauliflower to make rice, or a creamy soup, so don’t throw it away!). Pat dry the cauliflower florets and set aside.
  3. Line a large baking sheet with some parchment paper, arrange the cauliflower florets so that there is some space around each one, and place in the oven. Roast for 30-40 minutes. The florets should be soft and nicely browned.
  4. Place the roasted florets into a large mixing bowl and let them cool slightly.
  5. Bring a large frying pan up to temperature over medium-high heat. Add the pine nuts and toast on high for 2-3 minutes. Stay with your pine nuts as they toast and stir frequently as they can quickly go from nicely toasted and fragrant to burnt! Add the toasted pine nuts to the roasted cauliflower.
  6. Add the oil to the pan and decrease the heat to medium low. Add the sliced garlic and cook it for 1-2 minutes. Pour the garlic and oil over the cauliflower and pine nuts mix.
  7. Next, add lemon juice, lemon rind, and basil and mix everything well. Let the cauliflower rest for 10 minutes or so, then serve and enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Saffron Cauliflower Rice

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Saffron Cauliflower Rice, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Is there a more gorgeous looking vegetable than cauliflower? This is, of course, a rhetorical question because the answer to anyone who has ever held a perfect head of cauliflower in their hands should be an obvious “No!”.

Cauliflower florets are a perfect ingredient for things like vegan Buffalo wings – if you haven’t tried those yet drop whatever you are planning to make, and prepare the Buffalo wing right now! Cauliflower is also great for soups, pickled, and in curries.

In addition to all that, cauliflower can also be made into rice. Yes, you read that right – cauliflower = rice. It may strike you as strange but do follow along and you’ll thank me later. The cauliflower rice is something that was invented to fit the whole paleo eating craze – an alternative to rice that’s carb-friendly. I had it as a sort of cauliflower “risotto” and that was OK. I’ll make it again one day, and share here once I work out the ways to improve it.

The recipe here, on the other hand, is great as is, which may be hard to believe given that it’s just cauliflower with some saffron in it. The inspiration for Saffron Cauliflower Rice was my recipe for basmati rice, one of the favorite side dishes I serve with most of my Indian-inspired dishes, like Chicken-less Tikka Masala, Jackfruit Tikka Masala, Creamy Mango & Chickpea Curry Tofu, or Tofu Saag.

I was looking for something to serve with my meatless Koftas, and since I had a lovely head of cauliflower on my hands I went for it. All you need to do to make the rice is to run your cauliflower through a food processor. I used relatively closely chopped florets but you can use as much of the stems as you like. Depending on the size of your food processor you may need to do the zapping in batches. The ricing itself takes only a couple of 2-5 second pulses. At the end your cauliflower should be the size of rice grains. For basmati rice texture, the grains should be a bit larger than for risotto. But, the size of cauliflower rice “grains” will have no impact on cooking, it’s for esthetic quality only, so use your judgment to decide whether you need to be that nit picky.

Making of cauliflower rice takes less time and is more hands off then making rice, so all in all once you are done grating, using a food processor or a grater, the cauliflower rice will be ready in about ten minutes. You can serve this saffron as a side with any Indian, North African or Middle Eastern recipe, like the lovely koftas I already mentioned!

Saffron Cauliflower Rice

What you’ll need:

1 large head of cauliflower

1/4 cup water (if needed)

3-5 springs of saffron

Cooking spray or olive oil

 

What you’ll do:

  1. Wash the cauliflower, cut the florets and place them into a food processor. Process the cauliflower into rice grain size pieces.
  2. Spray the bottom of a large pan with cooking spray, or use a tablespoon of oil. Place over the medium heat and add the cauliflower rice. Let the cauliflower sauté for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the water to help scrape any cauliflower rice that’s stuck to the bottom off, stir well, than place saffron on top, put the lid on the pan, lower the heat and let the cauliflower rice simmer for another 5 minutes. The saffron will release its magic yellow-orange color and the cauliflower rice will be done. Don’t stir it too much – I like the non-uniform color and it makes for a striking plate presentation!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

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Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells, via Eat the Vegan Rainbow

Ever since I’ve decided to transition into 100% plant-based eating, I’ve been going easy on pasta mostly because it is yummy and enjoyable, yet not really all that great for you given the calories and starch. I’ve tried some replacements, like spaghetti squash, which made a great Pad Thai, and black bean pasta, which made an awful base for my “Clam” Sauce.

Of all the things I’ve tried, zucchini noodles are simply the best! They work really well with meatballs or even lighter veggie toppings that I’m thinking of ditching spaghetti all together.

But, there are some dishes that are hard to imagine without pasta, like a very simple yet incredibly delicious pasta salad I made at the height of summer season, and these stuffed jumbo shells right here.

The shells are stuffed with cauliflower “ricotta” and spinach mirroring a very traditional ricotta cheese and spinach stuffed shell recipe. The shells I use here are the “jumbo” kind, and their name is well-deserved. Two or three of these makes a solid serving size, so the recipe below ought to serve four people easy.

The main departure I took from the traditional recipe, which is vegetarian, is to skip the tomato sauce, usually a simple marinara, and to use my own creation, a cauliflower “ricotta” cheese, which makes this recipe dairy-free, vegan, and plant-based.

The cauliflower “ricotta” is inspired by cashew ricotta that I’ve made in the past. I was very curious about whether cauliflower can help the basic cashew ricotta recipe (some great examples here and here), and retain all the creaminess while cutting down the cost (frozen cauliflower is cheaper than raw cashews), and the calories and fat (cauliflower has far less calories than cashews and no fat!).

The cauliflower “ricotta” works well here, and it’s a useful cheese alternative to have for other pasta dishes, or a lasagna. Amazingly, what puts this entire dish over the edge is actually a tiny bit of nutmeg. Just a pinch goes a long way, so be careful not to overdo it.

Cauliflower Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells

What you’ll need:

16 jumbo shells, boiled

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen chopped spinach

1 bag (1 lbs; 454 g) frozen cauliflower

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1 teaspoon yellow mustard

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Cooking spray

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the shells and let them boil for 8-10 minutes. Take the shells out, rinse with cold water, and place them aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 F (175 C).
  3. Cook the cauliflower and spinach according to the instructions on the bag. You can use a microwave or a stove top method and you don’t need to thaw the vegetables but I recommend that you squeeze the access water out before using. Keep the cauliflower and the spinach in separate bowls. Cauliflower should take about 10-15 minutes to cook, and spinach about 5 minutes.
  4. Place the cooked cauliflower, soaked cashews, and the rest of the ingredients into a food processor and process until you reach the consistency of ricotta cheese.
  5. Spray the bottom of 8 x 8 in (20 x 20 cm) with cooking spray and pour in 1/2 cup of cauliflower “ricotta” and spread around to cover the bottom.
  6. Using a tablespoon, spoon some cauliflower cheese into a shell, then some spinach, and place into the baking dish. Continue with the rest of the ingredients until all the shells have been filled.
  7. Spread any leftover spinach and/or cauliflower ricotta over the top, spray with a bit more cooking spray, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake for 10-15 minutes more until the top is golden and sides are slightly browned.
  8. Let the stuffed shells rest for 5 minutes before serving then enjoy!

Copyright © Eat the Vegan Rainbow, 2018