Cauliflower rice is all the rage right now for good reason. If you’re trying to cut back on carbs or following a keto or paleo way of eating, then swap out rice for cauli rice. Full of fresh herbs, bold flavor and crunchy texture, Jeweled Cauliflower Rice with California Figs is perfect for celebrations but easy enough with a little time set aside for weeknights. Inspired by the Persian Jeweled Rice that’s served at weddings and celebrations, it’s a beloved dish named for the jewel colors of the dried fruits in it. We focused here on California Figs as the dried fruit of choice, which gleam along with the vibrant pomegranate seeds.
A few things to note: If you’re avoiding gluten, swap out the all-purpose flour for a gluten-free alternative, or cut the flour altogether for caramelized onions instead of crispy ones. Feel free to use California Mission or Golden Figs—both add just enough sweetness and crunch from the seeds that add oomph to this unforgettable side dish. Serve it with roasted salmon or grilled chicken for a complete meal.
Jeweled Cauliflower Rice with California Figs
- 5 cups cauliflower florets, about 1 head
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons oil for frying onions
- 1 3/4 teaspoon plus 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus 1/2 teaspoon for onions
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3/4 cup chopped Blue Ribbon® Orchard Choice® or Sun-Maid® California Mission Figs, (6 ounces)
- 1 (2-inch) piece lemon peel
- 1 cup hot water
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 1 red onion, halved and sliced into half moons
- 2 sprigs fresh cilantro leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh parsley leaves
- 1 sprig fresh mint leaves
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted
- 1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about ½ pomegranate, seeded)
Make the cauliflower rice: Pulse the cauliflower florets in two batches in a food processor, until finely chopped (they will resemble rice grains). Set aside.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 ¾ teaspoon salt, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, and a dash of pepper; stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cauliflower, gently folding it into the spiced oil until coated. Stir in the figs, lemon zest, and water. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is fork tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Make the crispy onions: Line a plate with a paper towel. Set aside. Separate the stacked onion into single slices. Mix the flour, ½ teaspoon salt, and dash of pepper in a shallow bowl. Dredge the onion slices in the flour. Pour the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil into a large skillet, set over medium heat. Place the onion slices in a single layer in the skillet. Saute until golden brown on both sides, turning gently with tongs. Place them on the paper towel-lined plate.
To assemble the cauliflower rice: Stack the cilantro, parsley, and mint leaves. Finely chop the herbs. Spoon the cauliflower rice into a large shallow bowl or serving platter; remove and discard the lemon zest. Top with the crispy onions, almonds, pomegranate seeds, and the finely chopped herbs. Serve immediately.
Recipe and photo by Annelies Zijderveld.