No.11: Cauliflower & Broccoli Stalk Pilaf
Long time go, I ended up with the post on faux rice using the cauliflower by Nom Nom Paleo. It seemed like a good candidate for my experiments as I limit the grain intake. It looked like something I can throw together quickly on weekdays. Once I got the basic idea, I’ve used the base for most of the things that “rice” is called for. Most of them.
Past few weeks, I’ve been experimenting this faux rice. Sounded easy, but not true. It resembles couscous visually but whiter, texture similar to cooked brown rice but with the smell of sautéed cauliflower and without the starch of white sticky rice, I felt. But after all, it’s a head of cauliflower. I love this white cotton-candy-looking vegetable very much but it could use some excitement.
The excitement returned when I decided to put leftover broccoli stalks and some shredded carrots in my Kitchenaid food processor with a head of cauliflower. I prefer to buy broccoli as a whole thinking that I can some day come up with something original with leftover stalks. Even Jacques Pepin had a recipe that uses them in one of his episodes of Fast Food My Way which I never tried just yet. Unfortunately, they end up in Mad Scientist’s beloved juicer most of the time before I can even work on them. Unlike broccoli crowns, they can be cumbersome for cooking as they need prepping and take longer to cook. Truth be told, they are as nutritious as crowns are; packed with vitamins, low in carb, and high in protein. I don’t think it’s known as an ingredient to us much but pretty famous in the world of trash cans.
So I claimed an ownership of these stalks this time around. After peeling a couple of layers from broccoli stalks, I first shredded them along with leftover carrots in the food processor. This step is important because I want to make processing of ingredients easier when adding a head of cauliflower. Using the pulse to low mode on the food processor, grind veggies until about grain size.
Sauté them on medium heat along with other ingredients like pancetta or bacon, and season.
What I liked about this is it definitely is a quick healthy alternative to grains (or quinoa even). It didn’t take me long to make this; as a matter of fact, it takes longer for me to cook rice. Adding some colors with leftover veggies helped visually and it kept my attention to the dish without “I wish.” It also smelled good. I’m sold. (so is Mad Scientist) The only problem now is… I have no more stalks. Sorry garbage can. Stalk is mine.
Adapted from Nom Nom Paleo
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 2-3 broccoli stalks
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1/3 cup minced pancetta
- Sea salt, white pepper, and celery salt to taste
Clean the broccoli stalks using the knife - remove the outer layers (most greenest layer) by slicing lengthwise. Or use vegetable peeler. Prepare the food processor with medium (coarse) shredding blade; shred the broccoli stalk, remove from the cup, place the shredded broccoli stalks in the bowl and set aside.
Wash the head of cauliflower and remove the middle (large) stems, cut it roughly to 1-2 inches. In the same food processor with the regular chopping blade attached, put coarsely chopped cauliflower, use pulse or low setting and process the pieces until they seem grain-like. Add shredded broccoli stalks and process again until they are mixed well and stalks appear grain-like. Process them in batches if necessary. Place the mixture in a large bowl and set aside.
In the large sauté pan or 5qt sauce pan, heat oil, butter (optional), and garlic over high heat. Add pancetta and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add cauliflower mixture and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, constantly stirring with spatula.
Season with sea salt, white pepper, and celery salt.
Remove from the heat, cover the pan with the lid until ready to serve. Serve warm.
May add other vegetables like minced shallots to bring up flavor.