Nothing screams summer like Mediterranean flavours, and nothing screams Mediterranean like artichokes, roasted peppers, aubergines, courgettes, fresh tomatoes and basil. These iconic ingredients are bright, flavoursome and perfect for summer. This Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice is bursting with vivid colours and fresh flavours. It’s light, vegan, low-carb (if you leave out the edamame beans) and nourishing too. Honestly, I could go on FOREVER about this recipe, but I’ll save you the earache and leave you to try it for yourself – it really is a summery delight.
The Tomato Sauce
First things first, it’s super important to get those base flavours of the tomato sauce just right, especially for a Mediterranean inspired recipe. If you google ‘Mediterranean flavours’, the descriptors you’ll find are tangy, tomato and herby – treat these as your buzzwords for this recipe. We want to be hitting all of those flavour elements with this Mediterranean cauliflower Rice dish, so first we need to focus on the basics…
Red onion and garlic. Pretty much the building blocks for any recipe, this is where you’re going to get that deep savoury base flavour from. I recommend opting for red onions as they have a milder flavour which allows for those Mediterranean ingredients to take the spotlight and not get overpowered.
Dried oregano. This aromatic herb has a bold, earthy flavour that mingles perfectly with the tomatoes.
Balsamic vinegar. When you need to balance out the flavour of a dish, vinegars are your secret weapon. They can really work to bring those flavours to life, and for this recipe balsamic works perfectly. It’s rich, tangy fruitiness incorporates a really exciting flavour element into the sauce. However, it’s important to use a good quality balsamic to make sure you’re getting that mellow, fruity flavour, and hasn’t got too much of an acidic kick. My favourite is The Gift of Oil’s classic balsamic.
Chilli flakes. A little hint of heat just helps to lift this recipe.
The Roasted Vegetables
A key part of this Cauliflower Rice recipe is the variety of oven roasted vegetables.
Cherry tomatoes – Of course, you can’t have a Mediterranean inspired recipe without some juicy, red cherry tomatoes. Once roasted they take on a naturally sweet, tangy flavour and a beautiful jammy texture.
Peppers – Sweet, soft, fresh and flavoursome. Peppers are the perfect addition to this easy recipe to incorporate that sweet, fruity flavour.
Courgette – This mild tasting vegetable adds a gorgeous splash of yellowy-green to the recipe, as well as a silky soft texture and delicate flavour.
Aubergine – This vitamin rich veggie is fantastic at absorbing flavour, and adds a smooth, soft texture element.
Fennel – The star of the show; fennel has an aromatic sweet, anise taste which adds a light, bright and spring-like flavour to the dish? When roasted though the anise taste mellows alot and it’s subtle.
The Mediterranean Flavours
Basil – Aromatic, fresh and sweet; basil is the epitome of Mediterranean flavour. Importantly, if you really want your dish to taste authentic, fresh basil is your starting point.
Extra virgin olive oil – Some women go wine tasting, me olive oil tasting. I swear I could drink good quality olive oil! A must for any Mediterranean recipe. Not only does it have a deep fruity flavour, but it’s also bursting with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pitted green olives – This little green stone fruit is bold and distinctive. It incorporates a deliciously buttery, salty flavour that really makes this recipe ‘pop’.
Artichokes. Similarly to olives, the artichokes in this recipe help bring those flavours to life. Herbaceous, sweet and nutty; artichokes are the perfect addition to compliment the roasted veggies and tomatoey cauli-rice. I like to use chargrilled deli artichokes as they have the best flavour.
I love this recipe, and therefore I want you to love it too. These are my most important top-tips for getting the perfect end result…
- Microwave the aubergine beforehand. This will soften it so it doesn’t need too much olive oil. We want silky soft aubergines, not slimy and oily. It cuts down the calories too.
- Squeeze out the excess water! Once you’ve cooked your cauliflower rice squeeze out the excess water with a muslin cloth or fine tea-towel. This is ESSENTIAL to getting the best cauliflower rice and ensuring that your dinner isn’t soggy!
- Extra olive oil. As I’ve already mentioned, EVOO is essential for any Mediterranean inspired dish, and this Mediterranean cauliflower rice is no exception. Don’t skip out on that extra drizzle, the mild, fruity flavour is a must.
- Frozen Cauliflower Rice packets. I actually prefer frozen cauliflower rice as it has a nicer texture but you can use fresh if you prefer. See the method below.
Finish off this recipe with some edamame beans for that high protein plant power. They also add a dazzling splash of bright green to the dish. A drizzle of olive oil will never go a miss, and neither will a sprinkling of fresh torn basil leaves.
If you’re anything like me and you love those summery, mediterranean flavours, feel free to check out my mediterranean tofu toasts or vegan bolognese!
Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice
- 4 packets frozen cauliflower rice (840g frozen) or 1 large cauliflower blitzed into rice
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small red onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tin chopped tomaotes (400g)
- 1 tbsp tomato puree
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tsp dried oregano
- pinch of chilli flakes ( like chipolte)
- 12 g fresh basil, chopped
- 1/4 tsp flaked sea salt, or to taste
- 1/4 tsp cracked black pepper or to taste
- 150 g cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 mini peppers, halved
- 1 courgette, sliced into 3-4mm thin strips
- 125 g aubergines, sliced into 1cm thick rounds
- 1 small fennel, quartered (75)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup pitted green olives, torn
- 1/2 cup chargrilled deli artichokes
- 1/3 cup frozen edamame beans (leave out for low carb, paleo, keto and Whole30)
- Fresh basil, chopped
- 2 - 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Place the aubergines in a single layer n the microwave and heat on high for 2.5 minutes. This will soften then and means they don't need as much olive oil.
- Add the roasted vegetables in sections to a greaseproof lined baking tray. Drizzle with 2 - 3 tbps of olive oil and a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roast for about 25 minutes or until to your liking.
- Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Add olive oil to a non-stick pan and cook the onions for 3 minutes on a medium / low heat until soft. Add the garlic for 1 minute then add the chopped tomaotes, tomato puree, balsamic, oregano, chilli flakes, salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes on a medium low heat until the sauce thickens. Add the fresh basil and cook for 2 more minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste.
- Add the packets of cauliflower rice to the micowave and heat for 8 minutes until just cooked. Open the bags and transfer the rice to a muslin cloth or fine teatowel and squeeze out the excess water. This is ESSENTIAL to getting the best cauliflower rice. If using fresh cauliflower rice. Cook for 6 - 7 minutes then squeeze out the excess water like above.
- Stir caulifower rice through tomato sauce. Option to add a little stock so slightly wetter if you prefer. Heat for 1 - 2 minutes until warm.
- Place the optional edamame beans in a cup filled with boiling water and allow to defrost for 3 - 4 minutes then drain.
- Top the tomato cauliflower rice with roasted vegetables, olives, artichokes, edamame beans, fresh basil and 2 - 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil. Don't skip the extra olive oil, it's essential to the taste!