Weekend Lunch Menu: Cauliflower Rice with Mint and Pistachio
July 24, 2010

Cauliflower Rice with Mint and Pistachio

What’s your favorite meal? One of my favorite poets counted lunch as his. He even devoted a collection of poems to it. Sadly, too many of us spend our lunches rushed, distracted, or chained to our desks, caught up in the wear and tear of the workday.

In my many years of blog reading, one particular food chronicle has always impressed and inspired me. It’s Cafe VegNews, which is a weekly journal of the incredible lunches prepared and eaten by the Vegnews Magazine staff. Let me put it this way: these meals make the food in the oh-so-famous Conde Nast dining room look–at least to me–like gruel. And they have on more than one occasion made me think to myself: “Hmmm. It wouldn’t be SO bad to live on the West Coast, now would it?”

I’ve always done my best to photograph some of my office lunches for you guys, and you know by now what they usually look like: nutrient dense salads, collard wraps, leftovers. Don’t forget, too, that I typically have at least one or two business lunches each week. But it’s my weekend lunches that I most enjoy, because I get to prepare new dishes that I’m excited about, and because I get to eat them in a leisurely and photogenic home environment. In fact, I’ll often pick out special recipes for weekend lunches well in advance.

As a little nod to my friends at VegNews, I’m going to start sharing my weekend lunches with you all (at least the ones I eat at home). Some will be scrumptious, and others will be ho-hum, but they’ll all be eaten with appreciation for the fine tradition of midday dining — that brief moment when we stop what we’re doing and appreciate the tastes and textures of good food and good fuel. I hope Frank and the VegNews staff would be proud.

Today, it was a spin on a raw favorite: cauliflower “rice.” Cauliflower rice is, like nut pates or zucchini pasta, open to endless variation. You’ve seen my Middle Eastern version; this is a lighter, brighter, more summery spin on the dish.

Cauliflower Pistachio Mint Rice (serves 1)

5 oz cauliflower
1/2 oz pistachios
1/8 cup (packed) EACH basil and mint
1 tsp lemon zest
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp raisins

Break the cauliflower into smallish pieces and toss into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade. Pulse till the cauliflower is broken into rice-sized pieces. Add pistachios and pulse a few more times; add all the remaining ingredients and pulse a few times more, till the mix is even and well combined.

Serve over a salad or with steamed vegetables, and garnish with lemon zest (why does lemon zest make everything so much better?).

Atop the customary greens, this was lunch fit for a queen:

Or just a Gena:

Cauliflower Rice with Mint and Pistachio

…and a trip to see Toy Story 3 with a friend made for a pretty good dessert.

Are you guys fans of lunch? What’s on your midday menus this weekend?


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  1. I’ve made this twice this week – thank you for always sharing such delicious and creative meals!

  2. You are a queen, my love! Also, I like how you say a movie is dessert, a sweet, induldgent ending doesn’t have to be food–often I forget this. xoxoxoxo

  3. i def need to give this lovely dish a try…it sounds refreshing and airy light!!! and i agree, lemon makes everything taste so much better…i put lemon zest and juice in everything…lemons are always on my grocery list!!


    thanks for sharing again!

  4. this looks really quite good! i’ve been eating cauliflower rice for a while now since grains seem to bloat me terribly ๐Ÿ™ however, i don’t feel like i’ve had to “sacrifice” for taste when i steam my cauli rice to use in stir fries or in faux sushi etc. it’s very versatile!

  5. This sounds so delicious! Maybe I can entice my husband with this dish. He does not like cauliflower. Maybe I will fool him with this dish! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I love pistachios. I love mint. I love cauliflower. I love Toy Story 3. I love you.

  7. We often have leftovers for lunch, but in a good way! I look forward to leftovers. Sometimes they are better the next day, and sometimes its nice to just enjoy some good food without having to prepare it right then. Today I’ll probably have some fruit salad, and maybe a veggie dog from last night. Yum!

  8. That looks delicious! All I had today for lunch was an Odwalla bar, since I was working ๐Ÿ™ I hate not being able to eat regular meals!

  9. Looks interesting. When I have “side-salads” I have been adding a ton of avocado, butternut squash, tons of coconut flakes (!!) and nuts/seeds, etc to them. Coconut flakes really add. I really really like coconut butter (Artisana) but it costs 2 legs and a kidney, so coconut flakes are a compromise.
    Maybe I need to make some macaroons…

  10. Love the cauli rice and love that the recipe calls for Raisins! I adore raisins in unexpected places, like salads or “rice” or where ever they may pop up ๐Ÿ™‚ Just a few to give that extra something.

    Have a great weekend Gena! (what’s left of it! )


  11. Wow this looks great! I’m a fan of any cauliflower/broccoli rice alternative – thanks!

  12. I actually made your Raw Vegan “Tuna” Salad for lunch yesterday. It was great! I used cucumber slices to dip in it and it was nice to slow down and actually enjoy my lunch (unlike during the week @ work.)

    This cauliflower rice looks delish! I’m on my out the door to Whole Foods now, so I will definitely have to pick up the ingredients today. Thanks!

  13. Cauliflower rice–what a great idea! Thanks for the yummy recipe ๐Ÿ™‚

  14. Cauliflower makes a perfect “rice” – I love to serve curry atop it for a unique and lighter spin. I have a wheat-bran breaded eggplant spaghetti on the brain for this afternoon!

  15. YUM! I love cauliflower as rice ๐Ÿ˜‰ And yes lemon makes everything better…what a great lunch!

  16. The food presentation really makes me hungry, and yes! I love lunch, and this recipe is ideal for dinner parties too. A glass of white wine will complete this meal.

  17. This is awesome, I was just day dreaming about cauliflower rice yesterday! I’m going to make some for my curry pot luck on Tuesday!
    – Allegra

  18. I’m definitely ashamed to say I’m not familiar with Frank O’Hara. So I’ll have to check him out soon!

    Ahhh, cauliflower how I love thee, despite your stinky smell when I transport you in a tupperware. Seriously, I love love cauli rice, but I always get the strangest glares if I eat it in public, due to its stench. Lately I have really been getting into mint, but haven’t exactly figured out how to use it efficiently, so this recipe is perfect. And I’ve even got some raw pistachios from my farmer’s market, so I’m definitely going to have to try it out pronto! Awesome post as always.

  19. I have sadly realized I cannot digest raw cauliflower at all. But I heard parsnip works as a good substitution.

    Loved seeing you in vegnews this issue!

  20. you just totally rocked my world… cauliflower = rice? I LOVE IT!! I definitely need to try this.

    I love lunch – I’m either a leftovers girl or a huuuge salad with dense ingredients (avocado, beans, etc.) that will keep me full for hours (okay, who are we kidding?).

  21. Also – are those raw pistachios? I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them. Where do you find them? Or are they just roasted unsalted?

  22. I LOVE pistachios but I haven’t eaten them in a long time. I’ve also always wanted to try the raw cauliflower rice. This seems to be about perfect. Thanks!
    P.S. I love Frank O’Hara too but haven’t read his lunch poems. I’m going to try to find a copy! Thanks for that recommendation as well.

  23. What a gorgeous dish! It looks like the perfect weekend lunch for a summer day.

    After years of eating lunch at my desk (probably the first 6 1/2 years of my career), about 4 years ago, I finally started taking an hour away from my desk to enjoy lunch. I always pack my own and either enjoy it while reading a book or chatting with a friend. It’s such a great way to take a break from my work day and take care of myself for an hour.

    I don’t pay quite as much attention to lunch on the weekends unless, like today, I make a lunch date with a friend to catch up on life.

  24. Lunch is my favorite meal of the day…since I eat too little at breakfast and I am usually too busy to stop for lunch until 1:30 I am usually STARVING for lunch! I love quinoa with veggies, some flaxseed oil, and TJ’s peach salsa. The perfect combination!

    I love the cauliflower rice idea. Have you ever roasted cauliflower? It turns out delicious, even my veggie-averse husband loves it.

  25. YUM! So simple and beautiful. I love cauliflower and love how it can be flavored in any which way. It’s funny, I often SKIP lunch on the weekends or have a quick grab and go snack. During the week, when my days are much more structured is when I spend time on lunch. I usually bring salad fixings to work to keep in the fridge and every week I’ll switch up my “density”. This is where I can get creative so I don’t just have the “same ‘ol” salad everyday. This week I’m FINALLY going to cook my own beans. I’m thinking some digestive-friendly hummus is in order. ๐Ÿ™‚

  26. Do you really enjoy your raw kale w/o any dressing? It looks completely dry in the picture.

    • Sara,

      Yes, I enjoy plain, raw kale. However, this wasn’t. There was flax oil and lemon on it.


  27. P.S. Posting to your blog helped me figure out what was wrong with my Gravatar. If I just did the right things, it should show up now. Testing Testing 1 2 3!

  28. I’m so into cauliflower these days. Dipping it in anything I can think of. Breaking it right off the head and just munching on it even. This is going to be a fun recipe to try. Thanks!

  29. Ack! Gena! This looks gorgeous and delicious! I’ve never tried cauliflower rice but I guess it’s about that time? Lunch really is so underrated, but I always like it because while I often crave cooked foods at night, I ALWAYS want raw food at lunch and I’ve had so much fun experimenting with nutrient-dense salads, different toppings and dressings and veggies, etc. I wish I could say I was more creative with lunch this weekend…it was a ginormous green smoothie with every berry and fruit in the fridge but hey. Who says smoothies aren’t creative?
    Pro for the west coast- it’s warm. Con – it isn’t NYC.

  30. i am IN LOVE with this idea…cauliflower as a rice sub? PERFECT!

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