I was the official rice maker in my family, and I perfected a water-measuring technique that involved placing my thumb against the bottom of the pan, just like my Sitti (“grandmother” in Arabic) taught my mom. I took great pride in my fluffy rice, and it was with a heavy heart that I banished my favorite grain from my diet. Then I learned the cauliflower trick, and my pilaf was reborn.


• 1 large head fresh cauliflower
• 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon coconut oil
• 8 dried apricot halves, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
• 1 1/2 tablespoons raisins
• 2 tablespoons pine (pignola) nuts
• 1/2 medium onion, diced (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• salt and black pepper, to taste


1. Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice. This takes about 10–15 one-second pulses. You may need to do this in two batches to avoid overcrowding, which leads to mush.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the apricots, raisins, pine nuts, onion, and garlic. Stir with a wooden spoon to combine, and cook until the onions are translucent and the nuts start to brown, about 5 minutes.

3. Push the onions to the side of the pan and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Add the cumin and cinnamon to the oil, then stir everything together—the oil, spices, onions, nuts, and fruit—so they all mingle in happy harmony. When you can smell the spices, about 30 seconds later, toss in the riced cauliflower and sauté until the cauliflower is tender, about 5 minutes. Try a bite, then season with salt and pepper.

You know how you could do that?

Same directions, different ingredients.

Turn your favorite rice into a one-dish meal and add diced, grilled chicken (p. 29).


Eliminate the fruit, nuts, and spices for a basic rice that’s an ideal bed for meats, curries, and stews.


• 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
• 1/2 medium green pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
• 1/2 medium red pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 medium carrot, grated (about 1/2 cup)
• salt and black pepper, to taste


• 1/2 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 teaspoon)
• 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
• 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
• 1 teaspoon ground curry powder
• salt and black pepper, to taste