Italian Mushroom Fried “Rice”

I have spent the past few days scouring the Internet for healthy side dishes that are easy and full of flavor.  I’m sick of having standard sides like rice and mashed potatoes alongside a protein.  My stomach has also been acting up lately when I eat beans or grains, so I’m currently avoiding them.  I also got a bad rash on the sides of my mouth from eating the leftover pineapple after making tropical sorbet fruit cups.  Yes, I’m super strange and overly sensitive, but that’s how it is.  It just stinks when everything acts up at once.

I actually spent this past Sunday morning at my local Barns and Nobles, pouring over cookbooks to get new ideas for sides.  One recipe that kept catching my eye was for cauliflower rice.  It seemed too good to be true!  A low-carb, nutrient rich, low-calorie rice replacement?!  I made a mental note to try it next time I have a head of cauliflower.

Fast forward to yesterday at lunchtime.  I was searching the refrigerator for something to eat and I found some cauliflower!  It was a glorious moment because I desperately needed to go to the store, so I threw this dish together with what I could find and it turned out so amazing I had to share it with you! This is a flavorful, healthy, and light side dish while also doubling as a nice lunch or meal on it’s own.  Sautéed mushrooms with thyme, basil, and fresh parsley add a rustic Italian flavor while the cauliflower rice is delightfully light and has a starch feel without any in sight.  Instead of just cutting off the stems and slicing the mushrooms, I removed the gills (under the cap) as well.  The result was awesome and I think that even mushroom haters might enjoy mushrooms if the gills were removed!

I opted to finely dice the cauliflower instead of throwing it in a food processor to get a rice-like texture because I wanted it to have a little more bite. What puts this dish over the top is the tangy goat cheese that pulls all the flavors together in a rich and creamy sauce.  While I have a dairy allergy, I can handle small amounts of goat and sheep’s milk cheeses.  Feel free to leave it out if you cannot tolerate any dairy or are vegan; this dish is still delicious without it!

I’m am still on a quest to find new side dishes, however this is definitely a keeper!  I hope you enjoy this dish as much as I do, and may your dinners be filled with flavor, health, and good sides 🙂

Italian Mushroom Fried “Rice”
vegetarian, vegan option

yield: 4 side-dish portions or 2 main entree portions

1 cauliflower, washed and stems removed
6 portobello sliders*
1 Tbsp coconut oil, or olive oil
1/2 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1 tsp dry thyme
2 tsps dry basil
1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup vegetable stock
4 oz goat cheese, divided

Directions:
1.  Dice cauliflower heads and set aside.  Wash and pat dry mushrooms.  Cut the stems off and gently scoop out the gills from the underside of the caps with a spoon.  Slice them into 1″ pieces and set aside.

2.  Heat oil over medium heat in a large pan or pot.  Add the onions and carrots and cook for 3-5 minutes before adding the garlic.  At this point, the onions should be translucent.  Add the thyme, basil, parsley, salt, pepper, and diced cauliflower.  Cook for a minute or two.

3.  Add the stock and reduce to a simmer.  Cook covered for 2-3 minutes, then uncover and continue cooking until cauliflower reaches desired consistency. Crumble 3 ounces of the goat cheese over the rice and mix until blended.  Add more spices, to taste.  Crumble the remaining cheese over the top of the rice before serving.

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