Dinner Tonight: Keto-Friendly Cauliflower Dirty Rice
Even if you don’t follow keto, you can enjoy this super-flavorful, low-carb, 30-minute meal
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Article, recipe, and photographs by Marrekus and Krysten Wilkes of Cooks with Soul
It’s no secret that we absolutely love Cajun and Creole cuisine. The majority of our recipes are inspired by Cajun and Creole staples in some way. In fact, we love the food and culture so much that we were married in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Our Cooks with Soul journey started not too long after that, and Louisiana-style cooking is the focus of the recipes we create on our blog. This healthy keto-friendly Cauliflower Dirty Rice recipe is no different.
Dirty Rice is a well-known Creole side dish that you can find on just about any Creole dinner table. Commonly known as rice dressing in Louisiana, dirty rice is loved not only in the Big Easy, but throughout the Southern United States. I often had it growing up at family gatherings such as fish frys and BBQs. My family would make a huge pan of dirty rice and by the end of the night there wouldn’t be anything left over.
Coming into the new year, Krysten and I decided to take some of our favorite family recipes and make simpler, healthier versions of them. For this recipe we went with cauliflower rice because we are trying to watch our carb intake. Dirty rice is oftentimes made with ground pork or beef, chicken livers, bell peppers, onions, and Cajun spices. To keep this version easy for a quick weeknight meal, we opted for only ground pork for the meat, plus bell pepper, garlic, and our custom The Boot seasoning, a blend of Cajun spices.
We immediately took to the idea of keto-friendly Southern soul food because many of the foods we love to eat are naturally keto-approved, such as ground meat and bell peppers. These ingredients are also budget-friendly. More and more people are starting to follow the keto diet because it’s not hard to follow, even for foodies like us.
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Ingredients for Cauliflower Dirty Rice
The first decision we had to make when coming up with this recipe is what ingredient we would use to replace rice. Rice is high in carbohydrates, so it is not keto-approved. Krysten has always taken to a plant-based diet, but I’m a carnivore, so I deferred to her on this.
Fresh cauliflower. When Krysten told me that she wanted to use cauliflower rice, I went to the store and bought a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. When I got home, she shook her head “no,” and told me we are making it from scratch! So, I went back to the store to buy a fresh head of cauliflower.
Ground pork. To keep the recipe as simple as possible, we used only pork and did not include ground beef or chicken livers.
Bell pepper, garlic, and Cajun seasoning. We still incorporated a lot of great flavor with sauteed bell pepper and garlic. Our custom “The Boot” Cajun seasoning adds spicy Cajun flavor to the dish with just the right amount of heat in every bite, but you can use any favorite Cajun seasoning.
When all of the ingredients come together, you end up with the perfect dish that will let you enjoy all the flavors of Cajun cooking even if you’re following a keto diet.
How to make Cauliflower Dirty Rice
If you are comfortable handling a couple of pots at one time, then this recipe is for you. In 30 minutes you can have a great meal just by cooking the cauliflower, sauteeing the meat and vegetables, adding some seasoning, and finally mixing it all together. Super simple yet absolutely delicious.
The best method for making cauliflower rice starts with steaming fresh cauliflower florets and then “ricing” them with a potato masher.
1. Steam cauliflower florets
You can steam the florets using a steamer or a pressure cooker, but we used a simple pot with a steamer basket. We used equal parts water and chicken broth for the liquid. Alternatively, you can use water, bouillon, or a different type of broth such as beef or vegetable broth.
2. Saute bell pepper and garlic
In a heavy-bottomed large skillet, saute green bell pepper in a little oil over medium-high heat. Add 4 cloves garlic and saute until the vegetables are softened.
3. Cook and season the pork
Add the ground pork and cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is no longer pink. Season it with Cajun seasoning and salt.
4. Rice the cauliflower
Drain the cauliflower and transfer it back to the pot. Now rice the cauliflower florets into small pieces using a potato masher.
5. Combine the ingredients
Add the riced cauliflower to the pork and vegetables and stir until well combined. Garnish with a little parsley, and you're done!
Get the recipe
This keto-friendly cauliflower rice recipe will transport you straight to the Big Easy.
How to change it up
Since it’s very filling, this dirty cauliflower rice can be served as a main course as well as a side dish. Our kids especially love to eat this dish for dinner, and they don’t even complain about eating cauliflower – they haven’t quite caught on to the fact that it’s a vegetable and not rice.
The best thing about this recipe is that it can be adapted to meet any palate or flavor profile that you want. Feel free to play around with the ingredients. For example, you can swap out ground pork with chicken, beef, or turkey. You can also use a meat alternative if you are following a plant-based diet. There are many meat substitutes that taste just like the real thing.
After we finished up this keto-friendly dirty rice recipe, I was completely convinced that we could serve it at our next fish fry or BBQ and our guests would be just as happy with this dish.
Learn more about keto cooking
If you're curious about the keto diet, interested in more keto-friendly recipes, and would like to check out a keto meal plan curated by experts, read on in these next articles.