We are here.
We’ve indulged little too much on Super Bowl Sunday, between all the cheesy dips and the decadent desserts. Now, the thought of a Valentine’s Day dinner, complete with the chocolatey treats and buttery, rich sauces can be a bit daunting because the new year isn’t so new anymore and the resolutions to eat better have been cast aside, for heavier comfort foods. Your Facebook and instagram feeds have gone from pictures of “eat your colors” to “I’m just gonna eat Nutella with my finger, straight out of the jar because it’s that kinda day.”
Hey, we’ve all been there. I see you, friend. I hear you. As I was writing this post, I was texting with a friend who as requesting more low-carb meals because the struggle is indeed real. This one’s for you, old friend.
We are in this cramped boat together. I just finished a second round of whole30 and have noticed that I’m slowly working my way back to eating sugar and carbs a little too freely– those pita chips made from leftover pita from a party, going stale have been calling my name and I’ve been looking at them longingly- for the sake of nostalgia, not the sake of wants. Old habits are indeed hard to break, especially when you start seeing pictures of things like Accidentally Outrageous Brownies (sorry!). I want to eat well but I also want FLAVOR in my food- I would get bored with just salad and grilled something for every meal. But I also want something that’s quick and healthy. Times like these are when I turn to my chimichurri shrimp with fried cauliflower rice.
Delicately cooked shrimp, tossed in 5 Minute Mint Chimichurri Sauce and served atop stir-fried cauliflower “rice” loaded with the delicious flavors of onions, garlic, and red pepper. Drizzle with a little bit more of the chimichurri and it’s a meal that looks gourmet, without the butter and cream filled sauces that set off the calorie count in the wrong direction, without even the slightest compromise on flavor. This is a meal that can be served as a dine-in Valentine’s Day dinner without the guilt or bloat afterwards ?. So go ahead and “indulge” with you sweetie!
Using cauliflower to give your favorite (rich) foods (like potatoes, pasta, and cream sauces) a guiltless, healthy makeover was all the craze over the last couple of years, like with this Deceptively Healthy Roasted Cauliflower and Red Pepper Spaghetti. Or try the Roasted Garlic Cauliflower Mash.
I’ve always personally loved cauliflower; the Autumn Harvest Bowl is proof of that throughout the fall, when butternut squash and cauliflower are abundant. But sometimes, some dishes just need that boost from something with grainy texture– like rice. Except not rice. This is where I love riced cauliflower. When I first started ricing cauliflower, I used to do it by hand; as in grate it with a box grater- as difficult and time consuming as it sounds, it took me about 5 minutes to do a full head. But when I (finally) replaced my food processor, I started running the cauliflower through the processor.
These days, I see pre-riced cauliflower at grocery stores- Trader Joe’s and Costco- if you want to go the convenience route and save yourself a few minutes. If you do buy pre-riced cauliflower, make sure to squeeze out the excess moisture by wrapping the cauliflower in a clean dishtowel and wringing out the water, otherwise the “rice” will end up becoming waterlogged and overcooked.
One of the best things to cook is shrimp because it takes such little time. I usually cook shrimp for no more than 5-6 minutes, to make sure it stays tender and moist. When overcooked, shrimp becomes tough and rubbery and loses all flavor. It’s like chewing a piece of leather. Not that I’ve chewed leather before. Shrimp is best cooked on medium-high heat, about 3 minutes on each side, until it turns pink and doesn’t have the semi-transparent quality it has when raw.
You know the BEST part of this meal? There is no need for sides- it’s a built-in, time saving meal that looks fancy, with sides layered into the dish itself. The lazy, exhausted, fighting-sleep-at-6-PM me is screaming with joy inside because I keep that yummy chimichurri sauce in the fridge for times like this. And can I just say I especially felt like a rockstar this time around because I had pre-riced cauliflower ready to go? So, while the shrimp were cooking (don’t forget to keep a close eye on them!), I chopped my onion and peppers and smashed that garlic. I have conquered dinner!
So go, live, eat, and conquer Valentine’s Day without the guilt but keep every bit of that indulgent. My plans?
I’ll keep you posted ?.
- 2 lbs. raw shrimp, peeled and deveined (I used tail-on)
- 4 cups cauliflower, cut into florets and riced*
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp pepper
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 cup mint chimichurri sauce, plus more for serving alongside shrimp and rice
- Toss shrimp with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper and set aside.
- Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a medium skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and cook for another 3 minutes, until shrimp is opaque and cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat and toss with 1/2 of the chimichurri sauce and set aside.
- Return skillet to medium high heat. Add remaining olive oil to the pan. Add onion and peppers and cook until softened about 2-3 minutes. Add 1 tsp salt, pepper,and garlic and stir. Add in cauliflower rice, stir to combine all ingredient. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, until cauliflower is tender but firm. Remove from heat. Add remaining chimichurri sauce.
- Plate with cauliflower rice at the bottom, divide shrimp among 4 bowls/plates. Garnish with additional chimichurri sauce if desired. Serve warm.
!*TO RICE CAULIFLOWER: Cut 1 head of cauliflower into florets, removing all tough stems. Add in single layer batches (do not overcrowd) to food processor bowl. Pulse 3-4 times for 5 seconds each to break the florets down into desired texture. I like mine to be on the coarser side. Repeat until all the florets are “riced”. You can also grate the cauliflower on the coarse side of a box grater. 1 large head usually yields about 6-7 cups of cauliflower.