Recipe: Mexican Restaurant-Style Cauliflower Rice

Recipe: Mexican Restaurant-Style Cauliflower Rice

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Kelli Foster
Feb 1, 2018
(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Inspired by the savory, tomato-tinged rice you know and love from your favorite Mexican restaurant, this version brings all of that plus an extra dose of veggies to the dinner table. Like any cauliflower rice recipe, you're certainly not going to mistake tender cauliflower for toothsome grains of rice, but that's not the point. It's a veggie-heavy alternative infused with a warm, subtle heat and a hint of tomatoey sweetness, and balanced with a squeeze of tangy lime juice.

Mexican Restaurant-Style Cauliflower Rice:
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Side Dish and Beyond

My mantra for weeknight sides is "low effort, big reward." I lean on recipes that come together with basic ingredients (the more I can pull from the pantry, the better) and not a lot of time, yet pack a punch of flavor. Bonus points when they're also wholesome. This cauliflower rice checks all the boxes, and has become a regular weeknight favorite. No need to reserve it solely for side dishes — use it as the base for your next burrito bowl or to bulk up a taco salad.

I prefer to start with bagged fresh cauliflower rice for convenience, although you can also use frozen (which should be thawed) or you can blitz a head of cauliflower yourself. The cook time will vary slightly depending on the size of the cauliflower "grains."

Make cauliflower rice: How To Make Cauliflower Rice

(Image credit: Maria Siriano)

Mexican Restaurant-Style Cauliflower Rice

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small serrano pepper, seeded and diced
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
16 ounces cauliflower rice, thawed if frozen
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1/2 medium lime, plus wedges for serving

Heat the oil in a large, high-sided skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, serrano, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Stir until combined and cook for 2 minutes more.

Add the cauliflower rice, tomato paste, and broth, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is absorbed and the cauliflower is tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

Recipe Notes

Storage: Leftovers will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

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