Cauliflower ‘rice’ prawn-and-chicken paella with roasted red peppers

A surprising way to enjoy cauliflower.

The season for cauliflower has come around once again and I’ve been exploring dishes with the vegetable processed to a “rice”. This recipe is delicious and satisfying, although some may enjoy a portion of actual rice on the side.

Cauliflower ‘rice’ prawn-and-chicken paella with roasted red peppers (serves 4)

1 red pepper, deseeded and halved
1 cauliflower
200g sliced chicken breast
2 sliced red onions
2 crushed garlic cloves
2 sliced red chillies
1tspn turmeric
Half a teaspoon smoked paprika
1tbspn tomato paste
500ml chicken stock
200g cooked prawns
150g frozen peas
A handful fresh chopped basil
50ml crème fraîche
Zest of 1 lemon and a squeeze of juice

Preheat your oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 5. Place the red-pepper halves skin-side up on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper and roast for about 35–40 minutes or until the skin is wrinkled. Once they’re cool enough to handle, peel away the skin and slice the peppers thinly.
Chop your cauliflower into even-sized pieces and pulse to a ‘rice’ consistency in a food processor, being careful not to over-pulse to ‘couscous’. You could also do this with a little patience and a sharp knife.

Put a splash of olive oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan and, over a gentle heat, lightly brown the chicken, then set aside on a plate. Next, fry the red onions until softened, then add the garlic and chillies and fry for a further minute. Incorporate the sliced red peppers, turmeric, smoked paprika and tomato paste and mix well.

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Return the chicken to the pan and add the chicken stock. Spoon in the cauliflower ‘rice’ until it’s level with the liquid and simmer for about 4 minutes, to cook the cauliflower and reduce a little.

Stir in the prawns, frozen peas and half the basil. Heat for a further few minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche before topping with a grating of lemon zest and a squeeze of juice, plus a scattering of basil. Serve immediately.

More ways with cauliflower

Cauliflower soup with cumin and sumac prawn skewers
Peel and chop half an onion and cook in a saucepan, with a splash of olive oil and a knob of butter, until soft and translucent, but without browning. Cut a cauliflower into florets and add them to the pan, then pour in 600ml of full-fat milk and 300ml of chicken stock. Season well, bring to a simmer and cook until tender. Add 2 teaspoons of crushed cumin, then blitz in a processor and pour through a sieve. Serve with skewers of lightly fried, sumac-dusted prawns.

Herb-crusted salmon with cauliflower ‘steaks’
Make the crust by combining 125g of fresh breadcrumbs with 30g of butter, plus a handful of freshly chopped herbs and seasoning. Arrange in a thin layer over 4 salmon fillets in an oven- proof dish. Cut 4 ‘steaks’ from the centre of a cauliflower and arrange in a single layer on a roasting tray, then brush with crushed garlic and olive oil. Bake everything in a moderately hot oven for 20 minutes or until cooked.

Cauliflower salad
Take a cauliflower, 100g of almonds, 100g of Parmesan and the juice of 1 lemon, plus a little zest and blitz them together in a processor to a very coarse consistency. Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over it and season to taste—extra lemon juice can be added as preferred. Serve alongside meat dishes.