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Brazilian Baked Cauliflower “Rice” (Arroz-de-Forno de Couve-Flor)

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In the last year or so, cauliflower has become a trend ingredient for healthy lifestyle. With this versatile vegetable, people have figured out ways to make low carb recipes in which the cauliflower usually replaces the flour, or rice.

I don’t always go for those trends, but this time I believe this fashion will survive the test of time and simply become a regular item on people’s diet. The reason? Cauliflower makes truly delicious tacos, pizza doughs, fried rice, etc… It’s not something I eat just because “today is Monday so I will try and cut my carbs”. I make and eat recipes in which the carbs are replaced by cauliflower because I enjoy them!

In Brazil, rice is on our table every day. And oh my, we tend to make a boat load of rice at once! So, of course, this often leaves us with more rice than the family can possibly eat. To put those leftovers to good use, Brazilians usually make “Arroz-de-Forno” which consists of leftover rice that is mixed with ANY other ingredient that is available, then baked in the oven with a ton of cheese. It’s comfort food that is often served for Sunday lunch. It’s creamy and cheesy – and by using those two words to describe this dish, you already know that it is delicious! 

I recently used cauliflower in lieu of rice on this recipe, and it turned out just as good! My mom said that she found it comforting, yet lighter if compared to the regular recipe. But she said that she did not miss the rice at all.

You can use all sorts of pantry ingredients that you like. I keep mine very Brazilian – well, I tend to have a very “Brazilian pantry” – so hearts-of-palm, corn, chicken, tomatoes, media crema, and scallions are always there, but you don’t have to limit yourself to those. When I have olives, split peas, and other fresh herbs, I like to throw in the pan too. And lots of cheese of course – which can be any kind that you like – in this case I used a mix of gruyere and swiss that I found in my fridge, but you can use mozzarella, provolone, cheddar, or whatever you have on hand.

This “clean your pantry” meal is easy, low in carbs, and lighter than its regular version. So, if you haven’t yet tried riced cauliflower, you are missing out! Enjoy!

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Brazilian Baked Cauliflower “Rice” (Arroz-de-Forno de Couve-Flor)

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finally chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves finally chopped
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded chicken (I used rotisserie chicken)
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 head (about 16 ounces) Cauliflower “riced” (See Cook’s Notes)
  • 1 can (7.6 ounces) Media crema, or 1 cup (8 ounces) crème fraiche
  • Siracha (or other hot sauce) to taste
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, finally chopped
  • 2 cups sheered cheese, divided (I used a mix of gruyere and swiss)
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 F.

To a large sauce pan set over medium-high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Once butter starts to foam, add the onion, oregano and rosemary. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are soft, about 3 minutes.

Add the shredded chicken to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir in the tomatoes and corn. Cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens up, about 10 minutes. Add the “riced” cauliflower and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 to 3 minutes, until cooked al dente.

Remove from heat and fold in the media crema (or crème fraiche), sriracha, and scallions. Adjust salt and pepper if needed.

In a medium ovenproof dish (about 2.5 quart) lay ½ of the cauliflower rice. Cover with 1 cup of the shredded cheese. Lay the second half of the cauliflower rice, and cover with the second half of shredded cheese. Top with bread crumbs and grated parmesan.

Transfer to oven and bake, uncovered, until cheese has melted and sauce is bubbling; about 30 minutes. Remove from heat and let seat 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note:

To make “riced” cauliflower start by cutting the head into smaller florets. Place the florets in a food processor and pulse several times, until the mixture resembles rice. That’s it.

Riced cauliflower is available in the refrigerated section of Trader Joe’s and Target. Trader Joe’s also has a frozen version available – if using frozen just cook a couple of extra minutes longer.

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I used Trader Joe's riced cauliflower this time. So easy!

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You make everything in one pot before transfering to the baking dish (or you can use the same pot if it's ovenproof).

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First, layer half of the cauliflower mix and cover with half of the cheese.

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Then, layer the remaining riced cauliflower mix and the remainig cheese before tranfering to the oven.

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