Over the past few years, I’ve sat back and watched as cauliflower went from being the last item left on the veggie platter to the star of the produce section. As a dietitian, witnessing this dramatic transformation has been like watching a child struggle through the awkward teenage years and finally come out on the other side as a beautiful, confident young adult. I couldn’t be prouder of how far my little cruciferous veggie has come!
I’ll admit, I used to be one of those people who turned their nose up at cauliflower. Growing up, I associated cauliflower with the sad, tasteless, and overcooked frozen veggies that were often served with school lunches. It wasn’t until I discovered the beauty of roasted veggies that my feelings toward cauliflower were changed forever.
Shortly thereafter, cauliflower began popping up in all shapes and forms on the internet and in stores. Turns out, the mild flavor (which I once scoffed at) is actually one of cauliflower’s greatest assets. This versatile veggie can serve as a great low-carb, gluten-free, low-fat, and nutrient-dense base for sauces, smoothies, and pizza crusts, and also makes a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes or rice.
Over the past few years, I’ve slowly been experimenting with some of these trendy cauliflower concoctions. One of my favorite creations to date is my Butternut Squash “Caulfredo” sauce, which pairs beautifully with pasta (especially on cool fall/winter nights when all you want is a big bowl of comfort). But, as the temperatures have been heating up, I’ve been looking for other (read: lighter and more seasonal) ways to enjoy cauliflower. Enter: cauliflower rice.
I’ve been riding the cauliflower rice train ever since I discovered that many supermarkets and specialty grocery stores actually carry pre-packaged riced cauliflower. As a general rule of thumb, I try to avoid buying convenience items (such as pre-chopped vegetables) as much as possible because, in all honesty, they do tend to be quite a bit more expensive. But, riced cauliflower is where I make an exception. Purchasing riced cauliflower makes my life a million times easier – not only does it eliminate the steps of washing/chopping the cauliflower, but it also eliminates the hassle of lugging out the food processor (and, more importantly, cleaning said food processor).
I like to use riced cauliflower in stir-fries and other Asian dishes to maximize the veggie content. But more recently, I’ve been making this Cauliflower Chickpea Tabbouleh on repeat – it’s just so light and refreshing and the perfect way to use up an abundance of summer produce, like tomatoes, cucumbers, and fresh herbs.
Traditional tabbouleh (tabouli?) is made with bulgur, a whole wheat grain that’s common in Middle Eastern cuisine. This grain is actually quite nutritious and provides a powerful punch of fiber (a whopping 8 grams per one cup cooked!). So, why leave it out, you ask? Well, just like other grains, bulgur must be cooked on the stove prior to adding to a dish – a task that is easier said than done in the heat of summer. Also, a task that adds on an additional 10-15 minutes in prep time and dirties an extra pot (that last one is a biggie because dirty dishes = my arch nemesis).
Substituting riced cauliflower in place of bulgur eliminates all of these pesky problems. With the help of store-bought riced cauliflower, this recipe is:
Grain-free and gluten-free.
Don’t get me wrong – I have absolutely nothing against gluten – or grains in general. But in today’s world, I know many people that do. Which is why it can be extremely difficult (and not to mention stressful) to find a dish to bring to gatherings that accommodates everyones’ dietary needs. Well, this Cauliflower Chickpea Tabbouleh is your one-stop-shop for easy entertaining – it’s vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, and free of the top 8 allergens. It can also be made paleo and whole 30 by leaving out the chickpeas.
But, more importantly than what’s not in this dish is what IS. In this dish, you’ll find a boatload of nutrients from veggies, herbs, and legumes. While I could go on for hours about all of the different nutrients and plant-based goodness that’s in this dish, I’ll spare you and give you the spark notes version instead (am I dating myself by referencing spark notes?). This dish is packed with:
Vitamin C (as well as many other vitamins and minerals!).
Monounsaturated (aka “healthy”) fats.
.. Just to name a few!
Give this recipe a try the next time you find yourself with an overabundance of summer produce and herbs. And if you do, be sure to let me know or tag me on social media using the hashtag #bytesizednutrition so I can see your creations!
Cauliflower Chickpea Tabbouleh
|Prep:||Yield: 7 cups||Total:|
Beat the summer heat with this Cauliflower Chickpea Tabbouleh. A quick and easy no-cook side dish that's perfect for feeding a crowd!
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 pint (2 cups) grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 medium cucumber, chopped (2 cups)
- 3 cups riced cauliflower
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2/3 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup chopped mint
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, garlic cloves, and salt.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, cauliflower, and chickpeas. Toss with dressing to evenly coat.
- Stir in parsley, mint, and scallions. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired.
- Enjoy immediately or refrigerate until ready to eat. Prepared tabbouleh will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.
Recipe lightly adapted from Quinoa Tabbouleh