Spiced Cauliflower “Couscous”

Spiced Cauliflower Couscous / loveandlemons.com #vegan #glutenfree Spiced Cauliflower Couscous / loveandlemons.com #vegan #glutenfree

While cauliflower pizza might not resemble actual pizza dough, cauliflower couscous (in my opinion) really does mimic the texture of actual couscous remarkably well. If you were waiting for a vegan recipe with a few less carbs – here it is. In fact, this might be just a few chickpeas and a couple of currants away from paleo. (Although I’m not an expert on paleo rules so don’t quote me on that).

Spiced Cauliflower Couscous / loveandlemons.com #vegan #glutenfree Spiced Cauliflower Couscous / loveandlemons.com #vegan #glutenfree

I went a little nuts with the nuts and spices. The cauliflower has such a subtle flavor so it’s really a blank canvas. Since we’re in the middle of winter, I figured I’d make use of a bunch of a variety dried spices – also, I had just cleaned out my pantry. Apparently, I had been hoarding hazelnuts.

I finished this off with a simple coconut & turmeric sauce that was inspired by a recipe my friend Angie made for me once (hi Angie!). This would make for a nice light dinner on it’s own, it was also really good with a few seared scallops on top.

spiced cauliflower “couscous”

Serves: serves 2-3
  • about 3 (loose) cups of cauliflower florets, dried completely
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • ¼ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • ½ teaspoon dried orange peel
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
  • ½ teaspoon red chile flakes
  • 2 tablespoons currants
  • 1 cup chickpeas, (optional: roast them in a bit of oil & salt)
  • chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
  • ½ cup coconut milk (full fat is ideal, light would do)
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • salt
  1. Ahead of time: toast your hazelnuts and pine nuts and roast your chickpeas.
  2. Make your sauce by stirring together the coconut milk, turmeric, curry powder, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  3. Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until it’s “riced” (ie, the size of couscous). Careful not to overmix, you don’t want to puree the cauliflower at all.
  4. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower “couscous” and a few good pinches of salt. Let it gently toast for a minute or so and stir. you should see a few of the bits turning golden brown. (Careful not to overcook you want the pieces tender and not mushy). Toss again and add the nuts and spices and chickpeas. Cook until the spices become fragrant (about 30 seconds more) and remove from heat.
  5. Toss cauliflower mix with half the sauce, (not too much so it stays fluffy), and top with fresh cilantro Taste and adjust seasonings and serve it with the rest of the sauce on the side.


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  1. Marie from stokescroftstitching.blogspot.com

    This sounds delicious! We’ve been eating lots more cauli recently, since discovering how great it is roasted. Thanks for the recipe idea -Will definitely give this a try.

    • jeanine

      It’s so great roasted isn’t it? Let me know if you give this one a try!

    • jeanine

      ha, it’s a tricky one – this should be a lot easier 🙂

  2. oh my goodness, this is ingenious! What a great way to incorporate more veggies. I do love cauliflower, but can’t deal with couscous (in grad school thats all I ate). Will have to try this out!

    • jeanine

      I ate a lot of couscous in college too 🙂

  3. I laughed out loud when I saw the title of this post. We are currently making cauliflower couscous as I type this!!! Love it!!! Your version sounds fabulous!

    • jeanine

      can’t wait to see how you make it!

  4. Isadora from shelikesfood.com

    I used to eat a ton of cous cous, but recently I’ve been eating gluten free. Using cauliflower as cous cous is such a great idea and I love that it is such a blank canvas so you can really add any flavors you want to it! Thanks!

  5. Trini from balmainkitchen.wordpress.com

    Looks superb! I love cous cous salads but am trying to eat mostly gluten free at the moment so this looks like a must-try. Thank you for the inspiration.

  6. cheri from mysavoryspoon.blogspot.com

    This looks amazing!

  7. Rosie

    Sounds delish. I have also made cauliflower fried rice…another great side dish wether you’re watching carbs or not.

  8. Melissa from Www.thewhimsicalwife.com

    Mmm what a great recipe. I will be making this on the weekend. Yum

  9. Tieghan from halfbakedharvest.com

    I am all for the spices and nuts! Love this recipe!

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    • jeanine

      ha, thanks for being brave and commenting!

  11. Such an original idea! It seems like Cauliflower is becoming a new key ingredient in the blog world these days and this one is so fresh and unique. I’ve never made couscous so this would be a perfect new side for dinners. Love the toasted hazelnuts too!

    • jeanine

      it’s so versatile! I didn’t like (well, thought I didn’t like) cauliflower for a long time until I really realized all that can be done with it 🙂

  12. Pang from circahappy.com

    WOW!!! When I took a first glance at the picture, I thought “OK, this will be a nice couscous recipe I should try.” But then I clicked and read this post carefully, and I was overjoyed. You are GENIUS!!!! This way, no one in my family knows it’s cauliflower, and they will get all the benefit this veggie has to offer.

    This is brilliant. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing 🙂

    • jeanine

      Ha, well ingredients listed in quotation marks will always be not what they seem :). I hope your family likes it!

  13. Cauliflower is an incredibly great vegetable. It’s so versatile too. This is a great recipe to try.

  14. Erin from clevergirlreviews.com

    I can’t wait to make this! I need a food processor!

    • jeanine

      I have just a small one – it doesn’t take up a lot of space so I find I use it *all* the time.

  15. Sylvia from superfoodista.com

    I love this recipe!! You are right, I made a cauliflower crist “pizza” a while back and it did lack the resemblance to a “real pizza”, definitely not as crispy. But this idea with the couscous is really great!! I love it and have to give it a try soon! I love to replace the “traditional” ingredients in recipe with a healthier one. The other day I made a quinoa tabouleh…
    Thanks for sharing, I am so in love with your blog! It’s one of the most beautiful out there!!! Sylvia

    • jeanine

      Thanks Sylvia!! I think pizza is just not the right name… it’s tasty but good dough is especially hard to “fake.” I was pleasantly surprised how couscous-like the cauliflower was 🙂

  16. I LOVE this idea! Especially like the idea of the sauce. Just one question – did you buy the dried orange or prepare it yourself?

    • jeanine

      You should be able to find it in the dried spice section. I happened to have it leftover from this post, (it was given to me): http://www.loveandlemons.com/2013/05/08/spiced-carrot-chickpea-salad/, But don’t knock yourself out if you can’t find it, you could try adding some zest near the end, or skip it altogether. Or, I mean, make your own if you’re craftier than I am!

  17. Love this! I’ve made a cauliflower tabouli before but never thought to use it as a base for other couscous dishes. This looks so, so yummy! Can’t wait to try it.

  18. Alethea

    If i didn’t have a food processor, would a blender work the same?

    • jeanine

      I think a blender might mush it too much – I would just try to chop it finely with a knife and crumble it with your fingers as small as you can. Cauliflower is so crumbly I think this wouldn’t be all that time-intensive.

  19. Lily Morales

    Oh my gosh, this was delicious. By the way, I did use a blender (don’t have the counter space for a processor) but just pulsed it a bit as to not to mush it. It turned out great!

  20. Val

    Amazing idea, but…do you cook the coulifower before couscousing it or you use it raw?

    • jeanine

      It’s raw and then it gets toasted in the pan (in step 4)

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  23. Kristin

    This recipe is so delicious! Have already made it twice and I am now forwarding the recipe to my friends and family. Made your “Chickpea Lemon-Miso Noodle Soup” last night – another hit and will definitely be making it again. Can’t wait to try the “Black Bean & Quinoa Burgers” this week.
    PS Love all your pictures!

    • jeanine

      thanks! So glad you’ve like the recipes – thanks for sharing your feedback!

  24. Deanne

    I tried this recipe last night and simply LOVED it! The flavors and textures were perfect. Added some sautéed shrimp to make it more of a meal. I plan to experiment by adding tofu next time. My husband liked it so much that he proceeded to ‘steal’ this recipe from me following dinner and made a second batch for his lunch the next day!!

    • jeanine

      Wow, that’s the best compliment ever 🙂 So glad you loved it!

  25. Carolina

    I LOVED this and I don’t like cauliflower. I didn’t have any nuts so I didn’t put them in but it was delicious anyway! Thank you for this idea.

  26. Lauren

    I made this for dinner and really liked it as well! I didn’t have the same stashes in my spice cabinet so I swapped in what I had – fresh orange zest, fresh cilantro, walnuts. I agree, seared scallops would have been lovely with it! Will definitely add them if I can next time. Thanks for another great recipe!

  27. Lisa B.

    This was such an easy, healthy, and yummy dish! I made just a couple changes like adding zucchini and leaving out the currants but the main thing I wanted to let you know was that instead of the spice mixture I used a vindaloo spicy mix from The Savory Spice shop in town and if was amazing! Since you’re an Austinite, I thought I’d pass along that great find– thank you and I’ll be trying yet another one of your recipes this week!

    • jeanine

      so glad you liked it! I’ll have to try that spice mix…

  28. Erica

    Any suggestions for substitution of dried orange peel?

    • jeanine

      Hi Erica – (sorry for the delayed reply!). You can either leave it out or add a bit of orange zest!

  29. Absolutely in love with your site! Just discovered the edamame dumplings (somehow, I can’t comment there?) and they seem like a great Asian variation on my Italian version (http://tlt-thelittlethings.com/2013/09/15/pea-parmesan-wonton-tortellini-or-ravioli/) which is without a doubt the dish I make most often. I bet the edamame version would be delicious with a side salad with carrot dressing. Thanks for the inspiration, I know what’s for dinner tonight:)

    • jeanine

      Thanks Denise! We turned comments off for posts older than 6 months because we were getting a lot of spam comments – although many people have been asking about this so I think we’ll undo that (soon!).

      • Totally understand! I had the same issue until my site redesign. I now work with Disqus and that helped a lot! Maybe something to check out?

        Also: I made your edamame dumplings last night and they were a big hit! I added some mirin and soy sauce to the stock and thought that really added some extra flavors. Definitely gonna make this again. Thanks!

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  31. Kat

    This recipe looks fantastic! How did you dry the cauliflower?

  32. Clodagh

    thanks v much – delicious recipe. I didn’t use the sauce but I incorporated most of the other ingredients and added a bit of lime juice to the cauliflower as I was cooking it. Used butter instead of coconut oil and it was delicious.

  33. I like this recipe, we made it today: it is so delicious!!!

  34. CG

    Hey! I just stopped by to compliment you on this recipe. We had it tonight with a Moroccan beet/carrot salad and it was heaven. Actually neither of us could believe how great it worked out. Thank YOU!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad it was a hit! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.