Low carb Spanish cauliflower rice made with chunky salsa for a delicious, low effort vegan side or main! Just a few minutes prep and 20 minutes from start to finish while only needing one pan! Gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, vegan, and easily adaptable too!
I think we’ve all had that situation where there are just a few odds and ends in the fridge and you need to throw something together and hope it's edible. That's why we love making chow mein and stir-fries, but, it's also how we discovered this super easy Spanish cauliflower rice!
With just a head of cauliflower, a jar of salsa, and a few pantry staples, this easy cauliflower rice recipe requires just 6 ingredients, minimal prep, and costs under $.60 to make per portion. By using jarred salsa, this recipe cuts prep time to just minutes (and practically just seconds if you use pre-riced cauliflower). Follow the prep up with just one pan and 10 minutes for a light and fluffy side or main that will fill you up without weighing you down like carb-heavy dishes.
Best of all, you don’t need to be on a low-carb diet to enjoy this Spanish-style cauliflower rice either. Easily adapt it to your dietary needs by using a salsa that is paleo, whole30, keto, etc., and enjoy getting extra veggies in your diet in a super delicious way. Perfect for serving alongside tacos, fajitas, burritos, and more.
Spanish rice, also called Mexican rice or red rice (arroz rojo), is a simple rice side dish usually compromised of rice cooked in vegetable broth with tomatoes, garlic, onion, and several spices. Sometimes with the addition of extra vegetables, too, like corn, bell pepper, and beans.
For this version of Mexican rice, we’ve ditched the rice in place of low carb cauliflower rice, use no animal products, and utilize chunky salsa (homemade leftovers or store-bought) in place of several individual, fresh elements to cut down on prep time, cook time, and effort and use up leftovers.
You only need 6 simple ingredients for this Spanish riced cauliflower, including:
If you have garlic and some extra time, you could sauté fresh garlic until translucent before adding the cauliflower rice to the pan.
Whether you’re having to rely on leftovers or have a few more ingredients to buy, there are several ways to experiment with this Spanish cauliflower rice recipe.
While it’s possible to buy bags of pre-prepared cauliflower rice (fresh or frozen), we prefer to make it ourselves, as it’s much more cost-efficient.
Don’t discard the stem as that makes for great cauliflower rice, though it may be easier to blend separately from the florets, as it’s slightly harder.
The key is to avoid overcrowding, as that’s when you’ll end up with all different sized pieces and some that is mush. We recommend never filling your food processor jug more than halfway.
Using a box grater: Pull/chop the cauliflower into large florets (they’re easier to hold) and grate using the large holes on a box grater.
Properly cooked cauliflower rice should be slightly chewy and slightly firm with a slight bite still. If it’s soggy, you’ve gone too far.
Then, give it a taste and adjust any of the seasonings to your liking—Enjoy!
The best way to cook frozen cauliflower rice is to follow the same method as fresh, adding a few extra minutes to the cook time. There’s no need to thaw it first, as that can make it mushy.
You could try the recipe with tomato sauce (a plain one, not Italian style) OR canned chopped tomatoes and sauté some onion and garlic beforehand. However, the flavors will vary.
A cup of cauliflower rice provides just 3 grams of net carbs, compared to the 40+g found in rice.
Cauliflower, once cooked, has a fairly subtle flavor, especially when served with strong flavors (like Buffalo cauliflower wings). In the case of cauliflower rice, its small size allows it to soak up all the surrounding flavors, making it so the rice tastes of your add-ins and seasonings, with a very subtle cauliflower flavor.
Absolutely nothing. Same thing, different name. In fact, I’ve used them interchangeably within this post.
It’s available in many large grocery stores now. You can find it fresh in the produce section or in the frozen section.
You can prepare cauliflower rice up to 5 days in advance, making it great for meal prep. Store it in a bowl in the fridge, loosely covered. Alternatively, freeze it for up to 3 months.
Once cooked, allow the Mexican cauliflower rice to cool and then store it in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Alternatively, store it in an airtight container in the freezer for 3 months. Allow it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.
Reheat it either in a skillet on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
This Spanish cauliflower rice with salsa is the ultimate side dish for all sorts of Mexican dishes, and is perfect for a lower carb Taco Tuesday or Cinco de Mayo!
We love to make a Spanish cauliflower rice bowl with slices or chunks of avocado, an extra dollop of salsa or vegan sour cream, tortilla chips, and a protein (shredded or marinated tofu, usually). You can also add other cooked veggies like roasted zucchini, corn, bell peppers, etc.
Photos by Alfonso Revilla
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