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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Rate this recipe (after making it):  

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

  2. 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.

  3. Kat

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

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  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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…

  8. 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!

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

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  14. 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)

  15. 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!

  16. 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.

  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. 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!

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.