This easy recipe for Vegan Mediterranean Cauliflower rice is bursting with fresh flavor. You’re going to love this healthy low carb side dish with riced cauliflower, olives, pine nuts and fresh herbs. It’s a satisfying and delicious dish, and ready in under 30-minutes…a great way to get a healthy meal on the table.
This post has been updated from the original posted November 27, 2017.
No more bland and boring cauliflower rice! This mediterranean cauliflower rice recipe is easy to make and has so much flavor. If you’re looking for healthy options for a quick and easy light meal or the perfect side dish for dinner, this is a great choice.
Cauliflower is a great addition to a healthy diet. It’s versatile, easy to use and a fabulous ingredient for those on a gluten free or low-carb diet.
Raw cauliflower can be turned into a delicious cauliflower salad, you can roast a cauliflower head whole, slice it into cauliflower steaks for a vegan main dish, pulse it into small rice-sized pieces and substitute it for any recipe that calls for white rice or brown rice.
Simple ingredients add up to BIG flavor!
- Cauliflower: You can make your own cauliflower rice by turning a head of cauliflower into tiny pieces with a food processor. Or, you can buy a bag of cauliflower rice in the freezer section of your local grocery store. Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that is low in calories and carbs, high in Vitamin C, fiber, potassium and magnesium.
- Onion: Use yellow, white or red onion. Substitute with leeks, green onions or shallots.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic adds so much flavor. Use garlic powder, not garlic salt if you need to sub. Mince the garlic, or use a microplane rather than a garlic press to get the most out of each clove of garlic.
- Olives: an excellent source of iron, fiber calcium and Vitamin A. They are also rich in antioxidants and healthy unsaturated fats. Use a combination of Kalamata and green olives for a more diverse nutritional profile.
- Pine nuts: Substitute with almonds, pistachios or walnuts. They’re all nutrient-dense and offer plant-based protein, fatty acids, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
- Lemon: use both the lemon zest and the fresh lemon juice for the best flavor.
- Fresh Parsley: fresh herbs add to the robust flavor in this dish. Substitute with fresh dill, cilantro, oregano, basil, mint or a combination. Fresh herbs have some powerful health benefits comparable to those of leafy greens.
- Red pepper flakes: They add just a bit of heat to this delicious recipe…but if you prefer flavor without the spice, substitute with freshly ground black pepper.
How to make Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice
If you’re using a bag of cauliflower rice, fresh or frozen, skip to step 1 below.
Start by turning your head of cauliflower into tiny pieces that resemble rice. Cut through the core of the raw cauliflower, trim off the leaves and then break into large florets.
Transfer half of the cauliflower into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until medium chunks appear. Scrape down the sides, then pulse again until it’s turned into small rice-sized pieces. Continue with the other half of the cauliflower head.
Step 1: heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the diced onion and crushed red pepper in either water, veggie broth or extra virgin olive oil.
Step 2: Continue to cook over medium-high heat until onions are soft and beginning to brown.
Step 3: Add the garlic and stir for 30 seconds, until fragrant. Then add the riced cauliflower, pine nuts and olives.
Step 4: Cook over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until fragrant and all the veggies are soft. Cook time will vary depending on the size of your skillet and how high your heat is.
Step 5: Turn off the heat. Zest the lemon right over the pan and then squeeze out all the juice. Sprinkle on the fresh parsley.
Step 6: Stir until fresh herbs are wilted, and the mediterranean flavors are well mixed together.
How to store and reheat
- Serve: Mediterranean cauliflower rice tastes best warm or at room temperature. Serve as an easy lunch, light meal or delicious vegan side dish.
- Store: in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
- Reheat on the stove: over medium heat in a heavy skillet, while mixing, until heated through. Leave untouched if you prefer a crispy bottom to form.
- Reheat in the oven: Spread in a single layer on a sheet pan and bake in preheated 375 oven for 15 minutes. OR, place in a casserole dish and bake in preheated 375oven for 25 minutes.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Add in some quartered artichoke hearts for even more mediterranean flavor.
- Save time: buy already riced cauliflower in the freezer section of your local grocery store.
- Save money: Make your own cauliflower rice from a head of cauliflower. Or, Trader joe has decent prices on frozen bagged cauliflower rice.
- For crispy cauliflower rice, use a cast iron skillet and allow to sit, undisturbed for a few minutes at the end. It will crisp up.
- For variety, use a combination of riced cauliflower, riced broccoli or parsnips.
- No pine nuts? Use toasted almonds or pistachios.
It’s best to store cauliflower rice in an airtight container. It will stay good in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for 3 months. If you make it yourself, or if you buy freshly riced cauliflower from the grocery store, be sure to store properly.
Frozen cauliflower rice must be kept in a freezer bag or other freezer safe container.
The best way to know if cauliflower rice has gone bad is by examining the color, texture or smell. Signs of decay or spoilage include dark brown or black spots, slimy or mushy texture, or an unpleasant odor. If your cauliflower rice has any of those signs, throw it out.
If you’re using frozen cauliflower rice, check for icy clumps. If necessary, rinse and pat dry before using. Cook in a skillet or on a sheet pan with high heat in a single layer so it will crisp up, rather than steam.
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Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice
- 1 yellow onion diced
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 4 cups riced cauliflower
- ½ cup kalamata olives pitted and diced
- ½ cup pine nuts
- 1 lemon zested and juiced
- ½ cup parsley roughly chopped
- Heat heavy skillet over medium–high heat.
- Saute onion (use your normal saute liquid: water, broth or olive oil) with crushed red pepper, over medium heat, until softened and starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and stir continuously, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
- Stir in cauliflower rice, olives and pine nuts. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes.
- Turn off heat. Add chopped parsley. Zest and juice lemon over pan. Stir until parsley is just wilted and everything is well incorporated.