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Cauliflower Fried "Rice"

Image of Cauliflower Fried Rice
By Dennis Linden

Here is a very simple, creative and delicious side dish that was submitted, sort of, by Melissa’s Accounting Manager, Debbie Perez. When we invited Melissa’s staff members to contribute their favorite recipes using company products for this feature, I presumed that these recipes would be contributed by the closet foodies in the company wanting to show their kitchen skills -- assume nothing! By her own admission, Debbie says that if it were up to her, dinner would start at a TO GO window because her culinary repertoire consists of one lone spinach dip formula.
Image of Debbie Perez
“Friends and family have come to expect my dip at every potluck event,” Debbie explained. “Not because it’s uniquely special, but because it’s the only thing I know how to make!”

“However, I am a very talented eater and live with my daughter Sarah, who loves to cook, so it’s kind of a perfect storm – she cooks and I make sure her efforts are not wasted!” she added. “Though she certainly did not learn it from me, Sarah can whip up a delicious meal from unrelated leftovers or create an original dish from scratch, which she does for the family almost every night. This rice-like cauliflower dish is one of my absolute favorites and contains several of Melissa’s tastiest fresh vegetables. We enjoy it often; Sarah usually serves this dish as a side to grilled chicken or fish.”

So this month we are presenting a tasty side dish recipe called Cauliflower Fried Rice created by Sarah Torres, who was created by Debbie Perez! Debbie has been with Melissa’s for ten years and, as mentioned, lives with her daughter, her 10-year-old grandson and son-in-law.

While the ingredient list for Sarah’s recipe is quite short, the flavors of this dish are amazingly diverse and really work well together. There’s also some flex in the recipe depending upon seasonable availability. For instance, my local grocery sources were out of both fresh and dried oyster mushrooms, so Sarah suggested simply doubling up on the shiitakes. Any recipe that allows for doubling up on the amount of shiitakes will get no argument from me. This mushroom is one of my favorites; it’s meaty like a portobello, but much lighter, with a chewier texture. I confess to using a bit more sesame oil than Sarah’s perfectly reasonable 3 tablespoons; I think sesame oil and shiitake mushrooms were made for each other.

The real key to this dish is the texture of the cauliflower. Like the dish’s name infers, think rice. Small, crumbly bits sautéed on a high flame to keep the cauliflower from clumping together. In fact, while the prep shots for this article used a standard fry pan, when I cooked up this dish a second time to focus on the flavors I had even better success using a seasoned wok, which isn’t very photogenic but is the best “cook” in my kitchen.

I am such a fan of Edamame, shelled or in pods salted as an appetizer with beer. For this dish, remember that Melissa’s Shelled Edamame have already been cooked, so they need only to be heated. That’s perfect for a preparation like this one that demands high heat and quick cooking. Edamame is one of the most whole foods one can eat nutritionally, so this recipe is deliciously healthy and a second serving is a totally guiltless pleasure!

While we are calling this a side dish, another serving suggestion would be to add grilled chicken or fish right into the cauliflower mixture, making this into a one-dish complete meal. I tested this option with a very tasty hot lunch combining the leftovers of this dish with some fresh-caught Dungeness crab meat I had in the ‘fridge – and a little more sesame oil, of course! So, thank you Sarah Torres for this great recipe and thanks mom for hiding your your daughter did not follow in your culinary footsteps!
Image of Ingredients for Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
Cauliflower Fried "Rice"
By Sarah Torres/Sarah Torres by Debbie Perez

4 Tablespoons Canola or Olive Oil, divided
½ medium White Onion, diced
1 cup Shiitake Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Oyster Mushrooms, sliced
1 cup Melissa's Shelled Edamame
1 head of White Cauliflower, shredded in a food processor
5 cloves of Garlic, crushed
1 egg
3 Tablespoons Sesame Oil
4 Tablespoons Tamari
Salt and Pepper, to taste

Sauté onion in a small amount of cooking oil until it begins to become translucent.
Image of sauteed onions and mushrooms
Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until soft.
Image of sauteed onions and mushrooms with edamame
Add shelled edamame and toss until hot.

Remove mixture from pan and set aside.

Add a small amount of oil to the same pan, sauté shredded cauliflower for 3 - 4 minutes.
Image of cauliflower rice on a sauté pan
Add garlic, sesame oil and tamari to taste; cook for 2 - 3 more minutes.

Make a hole in the center of the cauliflower and garlic mixture to reveal bottom of pan.
Image of adding egg to cauliflower rice
Add egg and scramble until almost cooked through.
Image of Cauliflower rice with veggies
Add onion, mushroom and edamame mixture back to the pan.

Toss until well combined and cooked through.

Serve with grilled chicken or fish.
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