Cauliflower rice and Quinoa Paella

I eat almost anything. The credit for this definitely goes to my child minder who followed the policy ‘if you don’t eat what’s on your plate there’s nothing else’. I know it sounds harsh but actually she was the loveliest lady and in hindsight I’m so glad she was firm about food. But interestingly, there’s one thing I’ve never been a fan of and that’s cauliflower. For those of you that have followed my blog for a while you may remember my trauma every time one of those annoying caulis kept magically appearing in my organic veg box no matter how many times I vetoed them (for those of you that get the boxes, you’ll know what I mean!) But it’s been a while since I stopped my veg boxes, which means it’s been a while since I’ve had to eat, or cook with, a cauliflower. I mean I would never normally buy one. Apart from smothering it with cheese (which N would refuse to eat) I wouldn’t know what to do with it. Until now.

I had some time to fill before a meeting recently so I actually managed to wander through a supermarket without a little person hanging off me. It’s amazing what you can discover when you’re actually paying attention to the shelves rather than singing Wheels on the Bus or dishing out a continuous supply of rice cakes. I came across cauliflower rice. Which is basically blitzed up cauliflower sealed in a pouch with a ridiculously inflated premium of £1.50. On impulse I bought it. It took me a few days to work out what to do with it. But my extortionate pouch’s final destination was to be a carb-free paella. N liked it, but commented that the cauliflower didn’t soak up the flavour of the stock in the same way as bomba paella rice. I wasn’t as aware of that. The thing that struck me was the absence of texture. I like my paella rice to have a bite but that’s not possible with smooshed up cauli. But on the whole it was a hit. Quick, tasty and so healthy (boosted by throwing in some quinoa). But for the sake of my purse, next time I think I should by a whole cauliflower and blitz my own. Although I would definitely need a bigger food processor and given the price of the all-singing all-dancing one I have my eye on perhaps I’d better stick to those premium pouches!

Carb-free Paella (serves 2-3|total prep and cooking time 25- 30 mins)

cauliflower rice and quinoa paella


  •  2 tablespoons of olive oil
  •  1 small onion (red or white) – diced
  •  2 garlic cloves – finely chopped or crushed
  •  140g raw prawns
  •  1 skinless and boneless chicken breast – cut into small pieces
  •  100g cooked or uncooked chorizo – sliced finely
  •  1 pepper (green or red) – deseeded and sliced
  •  8 cherry tomatoes – halved
  •  80 – 100g runner beans – chopped (can be substituted with peas or do half and half)
  •  1 pouch cauli rice
  •  30g quinoa
  •  1/2 stock cube dissolved in 300ml of boiling water
  •  Pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1 tablespoon of hot water
  •  ½ teaspoon paprika
  •  ¼ pinch of turmeric
  •  1 tablespoon fresh parsley – chopped
  •  1 teaspoon tarragon – fresh or dried
  •  ½ lemon – cut into wedges
  •  Salt and pepper to taste


  • Heat the olive oil in a large shallow non-stick frying pan or paella pan on a medium heat
  • Dissolve the stock cube in water and soak the saffron threads
  • Cook the cauliflower rice according to packet instructions
  • Fry the raw prawns in the oil until they turn pink – using a slotted spoon transfer to a bowl and set aside
  • In the remaining oil fry the chicken and the chorizo for about 5 minutes or until golden
  • Add the onions to the same pan and cook for 2-3 minutes until softened
  • Add the garlic, paprika, turmeric, saffron and its soaking liquid. Cook for about a minute stirring constantly
  • Add the sliced pepper, tomato halves and beans/peas and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly
  • Add the quinoa, parsley and tarragon and stir for about a minute
  • Pour in 100ml of the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes or until most the liquid has evaporated. Shake the pan a couple of times during this time
  •  You can season with salt and pepper at this stage. I don’t tend to add salt as I find there is enough in the stock and the chorizo
  • Add the cooked cauliflower rice
  • Keep adding 100ml of water at a time and shaking the pan until the quinoa almost cooked. Add the cooked prawns you had set aside earlier and shake. If you are using already cooked prawns they should be added at this stage. Cook for a further 2 minutes. If you run out of stock and the quinoa is not quite cooked you can just add boiling water
  • When all the liquid has absorbed remove from the heat immediately to prevent burning. Place the lemon wedges on top and cover with foil or a clean tea towel and leave to stand for 5 minutes before serving.


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