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Cauliflower 'couscous' recipe

Cauliflower 'couscous' recipe

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  • Side dish
  • Vegetable side dishes

Cauliflower replaces traditional couscous to make this gluten-free, low-carb alternative. It's flavoured with cumin, coriander and dried rose buds. Serve as a side to a Moroccan tagine.

7 people made this

IngredientsServes: 4

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 2 dried rose buds
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground paprika
  • 1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped coriander leaves
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:9min ›Extra time:5min › Ready in:34min

  1. Preheat a large pan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds and coriander seeds; cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer cumin seeds and coriander seeds to a mortar; crush with a pestle. Add rose buds and crush to a powder. Mix in dried chilli flakes and paprika with a spoon.
  3. Place cauliflower in a food processor; pulse into grains the size of rice.
  4. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook and stir onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cauliflower until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Sprinkle cumin mixture evenly over cauliflower and stir to distribute evenly. Remove from heat and cover; let 'couscous' steam for 5 minutes.
  5. Sprinkle freshly chopped coriander over couscous. Fluff with a fork and drizzle extra-virgin olive oil on top.

Dried rose buds

You can find these in specialty cooking shops or online. They can also be used to make tea or flavoured syrups for cocktails.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(3)

Reviews in English (1)

10 Terrific Cauliflower “Rice” and "Couscous" Recipes

Published: Mar 14, 2017 · Updated: Mar 4, 2021 by Nicole @ VegKitchen · This post may contain affiliate links.

Here’s a selection of cauliflower "rice" recipes (and a few cauliflower "couscous" recipes as well) that are easy, tasty, and just happen to be vegan. Cauliflower “rice” and “couscous” are clever ways to get a nutritious vegetable into your regimen, and good for anyone who avoids grain foods for any reason. It’s also a good way to disguise vegetables for your picky eaters!

Some people simply have trouble digesting grains others argue that cauliflower rice is more Paleo-friendly than real rice, possibly forgetting that cauliflower is a cultivated crop and wasn’t available when our distant ancestors were doing cave painting and hunting with spears. They didn’t have food processors back then, either.

Cauliflower rice dishes make nice light side dishes combined with or used as a “bed” with legumes, they’re nearly as substantial as their grain counterparts.

Cauliflower rice vs. brown rice: Calories and Carbs

The appeal of cauliflower rice to calorie-watchers is undeniable: Only 25 calories per cup as compared to 218 for a cup of cooked brown rice. As far as carbohydrates, cauliflower has only 5g per cup, as compared to 46g in a cup of cooked brown rice. (how about white?)

Still, cauliflower rice isn’t better or more nutritious than brown rice, just different. It’s light and mild-flavored, and you can use it in dishes that normally call for rice as well as couscous or bulgur. For those on gluten-free diets, there’s an especially good argument for replacing the latter two with cauliflower.

How to make cauliflower rice from fresh cauliflower

OhMyVeggies offers a concise post on that won’t put you into a stupor like many other posts I’ve explored that have dozens of photos of riced cauliflower from every possible angle, guaranteed to put you into a stupor. Go to How to Make Cauliflower Rice to get the steps in a concise way.

To make cauliflower couscous, simply process the cauliflower to slightly smaller bits.

One more caveat: turning cauliflower into “rice” or "couscous" is a messy business. You might find cauliflower bits all over your kitchen from this endeavor.

What if you don’t have a food processor?

… Or are merely lazy, like me? Fortunately, you can find cauliflower rice (sometimes labeled “riced cauliflower” in the freezer section of well-stocked supermarkets, completely ready to use. If your store doesn’t have it, ask the kind manager to order it.

Enjoy these creative cauliflower rice and cauliflower couscous recipes from VegKitchen, OhMyVeggies, and around the web.

Vegan Food Hacks offers up Cauliflower Spanish Rice that’s super simple to make, thanks to a great new shortcut —frozen riced cauliflower.

The same shortcut — a bag of riced cauliflower that you will find in your supermarket’s frozen foods section — is used for Cauliflower Fried Rice with Mushrooms & Chickpeas. This one is also courtesy of Vegan Food Hacks.

From OhMyVeggies, Basmati & Cauliflower Rice Pilaf with Fruit & Almonds is made with a mix of spiced basmati and cauliflower rice, crunchy almonds, and sweet pomegranate seeds. It's as beautiful as it is nourishing.

Adapt this delicious Cauliflower “Risotto” with ingredients you have on hand add mushrooms, peas, tomatoes, basil, or other veggies and herbs you may be craving.

Easy, healthy Lunchbox-Friendly Mexican Cauliflower Rice Salad from OhMyVeggies is especially perfect to prep on Sunday for no-fuss lunches during the week.

Garden-Fresh Foodie presents a garden-fresh tasting Indian Cauliflower Rice Bowl — the beans and walnuts provide a generous amount of protein to make this a hearty main dish.

From Connoisserus Veg comes Cauliflower Fried Rice, as simple preparation hat has all the flavors you love in Chinese Fried Rice, minus the greasiness and carbs.

Tex-Mex Cauliflower Couscous is a calorie-light dish that will fill you up and please your palate with novel textures and luscious flavors.

Love and Lemons brings you Spiced Cauliflower “Couscous” flavored with nuts, currants, and exquisitely balanced seasonings.

Kimberly Snyder presents Cilantro Lime Cauliflower “Couscous” — and you couldn’t ask for a lighter and more lovely vegetable side dish that can be enjoyed year-round.

Cauliflower Couscous

I’ve always preferred cooked cauliflower over raw—until I tried this recipe. It’s so fresh and flavorful and a great side dish to pair with red bell pepper hummus from my book Raw & Simple.


  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower
  • 1/2 bunch parsley
  • 1/4 cup (6 g) fresh mint
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup (25 g) black olives, chopped (botija are best if you can find them)
  • 1/4 cup (40 g) red onions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup (59 ml) lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1⁄₈ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • dash cayenne (optional)


Chop the cauliflower and put it in a food processor. Pulse several times until it is broken down and resembles couscous. Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl.

Put the parsley and mint into the food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add the mixture to the cauliflower. Stir in remaining ingredients and toss well. Adjust seasonings to taste. This will keep for two or three days in the refrigerator.

Health Note: Cauliflower is another rock star from the cruciferous family. Along with containing high amounts of vitamin C (50 percent Rda in a ½ cup (50 g)) it also contains di–indolyl–methane and indole–3–carbinol, two compounds that help the body get rid of excess estrogen. Estrogen dominance has been linked to breast cancer as well as cystic fibroids, endometriosis, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Mendo’s Signature Curried Couscous Recipe

Cook off couscous or orzo according to the instructions on the box. Rinse in cold water, drain well, put in a bowl and set aside.

Heat oven to 450°F. Put cauliflower florets in a bowl and toss with spices, salt, brown sugar,
and oil. Spread out on a line sheet tray and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes until
cauliflower is browned around the edges but still crunchy. Remove just the cauliflower and
put in the bowl with the pasta.

Put diced carrots on the same sheet tray and, using spatula, toss the carrots with the leftover
spices and oil. Roast carrots until brown around the edges but still crunchy, about 8 minutes.
(If you find that the spices and oil got too burnt when roasting the cauliflower, just toss the
carrots in the same proportion of new spices, salt, sugar, and oil.) Add to the pasta.

Mix in vegenaise, cilantro, lime juice to the pasta, cauliflower and carrot mixture. Adjust
seasoning to desired consistency, flavor, and spice level.

Cauliflower Couscous

Ingredients US Metric

  • For the lemon sauce
  • 10 large (about 1 cup loosely packed) basil leaves
  • Zest and juice of 2 lemons, preferably Meyer
  • 1/2 cup fruity extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • For the cauliflower couscous
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter (1/2 oz)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium head cauliflower, stalks and stems discarded, florets finely diced
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup lemon sauce
  • 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade


Combine the basil, lemon zest and juice, oil, and maple syrup in a blender and purée. (You can keep the sauce in a jar with a tight-fitting lid in the refrigerator for up to 7 to 10 days.)

Reach for a skillet or wok large that’s enough to hold all the cauliflower, place it over medium-high heat, and melt the butter in the olive oil. Add the onion and saute until the onion softens, about 2 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, stir thoroughly, salt and pepper liberally, and cook until the cauliflower softens, about 10 minutes.

Add 2 tablespoons lemon sauce and cook until the cauliflower is tender and fragrant, another 10 minutes. Adjust the salt, add the remaining 2 tablespoons sauce, mix thoroughly, and transfer to a serving bowl. Top with the basil chiffonade.

Recipe Testers' Reviews

Susan Hillery

Absolutely fabulous! This recipe really challenged my idea of cauliflower—the chopped cauliflower was such a departure from the typical use of the floret. I admit that I was also a little skeptical using maple syrup, but it just tempers the lemon juice, making everything pop. A delicious, delicious way to serve cauliflower.

Jeremy Schweitzer

I had never considered cooking cauliflower this way before and was very impressed by the result. I liked the simplicity, texture, and flavor of this dish and the leftover dressing is delicious with romaine and grilled chicken.

Liz Tarpy

A fast, easy dish that tastes really bright and flavorful. I used it as a topping for whole-wheat pasta, grated some fresh Parmesan on top, and it was a lovely meal.

Leanne Abe

I was pleasantly surprised by this dish. It takes some time to chop up all the cauliflower florets, but it really makes a great-tasting dish! It’s a preparation I never would have thought of for this vegetable, but I’m going to keep it in mind now that I see how it really does absorb all the other flavors in the dish. The lemon is a little subtle in the dressing and you need to taste often to get the salt level right, but it’s a great dish and the leftovers make a perfect lunch.

Elsa M. Jacobson

This was simple, clean, tasty, and freshly flavored, a bright light in the gray of February. Happily it is now Meyer
lemon season, but I am sure this would work as well with regular lemons. As a vegetable-loving vegetarian, I try to share dishes with friends to solicit their opinions as well. One friend, when asked to taste it, took a small careful forkful at first, then proceeded to eat substantially more. It has plenty of room for adaptation, too. While the basil and lemon were delicious, my friend suggested the addition of some chipotle to add depth and substance.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.


I loved this dish, as well as the concept of the recipe, and am anxious to try it with other variations. At first, I was a little bit disappointed, as I didn’t think it packed a fabulous flavor punch, but it was sublime the following day. I think this is one dish that benefits from standing awhile before serving and then being reheated, or even served at room temperature. All in all, a lovely, healthful recipe.

Debbie, that is an excellent observation about letting it sit for a day. Readers, take note!

Make your diet carb-free with these insane riced cauliflower recipes

Carbs are amazing . . . except when you’re on a diet. Then they can be everywhere, making it nearly impossible to find healthy food options. Most recipes use rice or pasta as a base, and there’s only so many times you can eat vegetables before you run out of recipe ideas.

But there’s a great solution that both tastes amazing and scratches the itch for carbs after so many days without: riced cauliflower. This broccoli-impersonator is able to be ground down into a delicious rice equivalent, allowing you to make your favorite meals without the extra calories.

Luckily, we searched through the internet to find the best riced cauliflower recipes to help get you started. Grab your rice cookers and let’s get cooking!

Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice

This first addition to our list of delicious riced cauliflower recipes has a great, bold flavor that’s easy to make and amazing to eat!


  • 1 medium-to-large head cauliflower or 16 ounces store-bought cauliflower rice
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (omit if sensitive to spice)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


  1. If you’re working with a head of cauliflower, cut it into medium chunks and discard the core. Working in batches, pulse the chunks in a food processor with the S-blade until they’re broken into tiny pieces, just bigger than couscous.
  2. Wrap the cauliflower rice in a clean tea towel or paper towels, twist, and squeeze as much water as possible from the rice – you might be surprised by how much water you can wring out.
  3. Toast the almonds in a large skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they’re fragrant and starting to turn golden on the edges, about three to five minutes. Transfer the toasted almonds to a bowl to cool.
  4. Return the skillet to the heat and add the olive oil & garlic. Cook while stirring until the garlic is fragrant, about ten to twenty seconds. Add the cauliflower rice, red pepper flakes and salt, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring just every minute or so, until the cauliflower rice is hot and turning golden in places, about six to ten minutes.
  5. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the toasted almonds, parsley and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve warm.

Parmesan Cauliflower Rice Skillet

Want a delicious base for your meals that doesn’t pack on the carbs? This next addition to our list of riced cauliflower recipes is for you!


  1. 1 cauliflower, grated
  2. 1/2 white onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  4. 2 oz fresh Parmesan, finely grated
  5. 2 tablespoons vegetable stock
  6. Juice of 1/2 lemon (+ zest, if you like)
  7. 1 teaspoon Red chili pepper flakes, optional
  8. 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
  9. Fresh parsley, chopped


  1. To make the parmesan cauliflower rice: In a medium skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Fry the garlic and onion for 1 minute until fragrant — be careful not to burn.
  2. Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet and stir to mix everything together well and coat in melted butter. Cook, stirring regularly for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in the 2 tablespoons vegetable stock, about half the parsley, and lemon zest (if using). Cook for one minute to reduce juices then add the lemon juice and parmesan cheese.
  4. Adjust seasoning as needed. Stir in the remaining parsley. Serve with fresh cracked black pepper, red chili pepper flakes, and more parmesan. Enjoy!

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This last addition to our list of amazing riced cauliflower recipes will have you keeping the take out menus in the drawer.


  • 1 medium head, about 24 oz cauliflower, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of salt
  • cooking spray
  • 1/2 small onion, diced fine
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 scallions, diced, whites and greens separated
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce, or more to taste


  1. Remove the core and let the cauliflower dry completely.
  2. Coarsely chop into florets, then place half of the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until the cauliflower is small and has the texture of rice or couscous – don’t over process or it will get mushy. Set aside and repeat with the remaining cauliflower.
  3. Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl and beat with a fork. Season with salt.
  4. Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium heat and spray with oil.
  5. Add the eggs and cook, turning a few times until set – set aside.
  6. Add the sesame oil and saute onions, scallion whites, peas, carrots, and garlic about three to four minutes or until soft. Raise the heat to medium-high.
  7. Add the cauliflower “rice” to the saucepan along with soy sauce. Mix, cover and cook approximately five to six minutes, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower is slightly crispy on the outside but tender on the inside.
  8. Add the egg, and then remove from heat and mix in scallion greens.

Have any other delicious riced cauliflower recipes? Drop them below in the comments to keep the rice cooker hot!

Partner: Nicole Zamlout Nicole is a fan of stories. She loves seeing them unfold in her favorite fandoms such as Marvel, Arrowverse, and 'Lucifer'. While watching new fandoms and shows unfold, Nicole can't wait to see what stories to tell you all about next!

Spiced Cauliflower “Couscous”

While cauliflower pizza might not resemble actual pizza dough, cauliflower couscous (in my opinion) really does mimic the texture of actual couscous remarkably well. If you were waiting for a vegan recipe with a few less carbs – here it is. In fact, this might be just a few chickpeas and a couple of currants away from paleo. (Although I’m not an expert on paleo rules so don’t quote me on that).

I went a little nuts with the nuts and spices. The cauliflower has such a subtle flavor so it’s really a blank canvas. Since we’re in the middle of winter, I figured I’d make use of a bunch of a variety dried spices – also, I had just cleaned out my pantry. Apparently, I had been hoarding hazelnuts.

I finished this off with a simple coconut & turmeric sauce that was inspired by a recipe my friend Angie made for me once (hi Angie!). This would make for a nice light dinner on it’s own, it was also really good with a few seared scallops on top.

  • 2/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped dill
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5/8 teaspoon kosher salt

Nutritional Information

  • Calories 192
  • Fat 10g
  • Satfat 1g
  • Unsatfat 8g
  • Protein 4g
  • Carbohydrate 23g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Cholesterol 0.0mg
  • Iron 0.0mg
  • Sodium 321mg
  • Calcium 2% DV
  • Potassium 7% DV
  • Sugars 2g
  • Added sugars g

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups finely chopped cauliflower florets, (about 1 medium head)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • ¼ cup currants
  • ⅔ cup whole-wheat couscous
  • ½ cup sliced scallion greens

Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add cauliflower and salt cook, stirring, until softened, about 3 minutes. Add broth, orange zest, juice and currants bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in couscous and scallions. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, until the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cauliflower Couscous with Golden Raisins and Mint

Couscous is one of those easy back pocket starches that is perfect for last minute dinners. It takes five minutes to cook and is always super satisfying when served alongside a chicken tagine. Luckily, it’s equally hands-off and lightning fast to do a grain-free version using cauliflower!

Simply pulse the florets in a food processor to create a crumbly couscous-like texture. You can also find frozen riced cauliflower now in most supermarkets, but I promise it won’t take much time to make your own.

In this recipe, I use a turmeric hack to get the saffron-hue of couscous or yellow rice pilafs, without having to shell out the cash for those rare threads.

If pine nuts are too rich for your blood too, you can swap slivered almonds or chopped cashews. Really any nut or dried fruit works well here—many varieties are staples of Moroccan cooking.

This cauliflower couscous is a fabulous paleo weeknight side for pretty much any protein, especially if served with this green harissa as an additional condiment.