Summer Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Bacon and Pesto
Greetings from my remote office in Santa Barbara, friends!
T-3 weeks to Logena2k17, and I’m psyched. A little nervous, a little stressed, but I’ve been chugging calcium-magnesium cocktails and doing a lot of yoga, so mostly just excited. Hallelujah.
To be fair, I’m not as crazypants as I thought I would be at this point in wedding planning, and I suppose I mostly have my roommate and my badass wedding planner to thank for my relative sanity. That’s not to say I didn’t have a teensy freakout during my final dress fitting Thursday (Dear God, so. much. cleavage. Think Coco getting married…), or that I don’t have nightmares about running out of alcohol potential logistical errors, but these things are par for the wedding planning course, right? (Don’t answer that.)
The only thing I’m really struggling with in the midst of this wedding whirlwind is decision-making fatigue. Never in my life have I made this many decisions in such a short period of time. I mean…fonts, and flowers, and timing, and songs, and menus, and rings, and transportation, and wardrobe, and colors of Gatorade? SO MANY DECISIONS.
Being presented with a plethora of options for everything has been mildly overwhelming and has also made me start to care about things that I never knew I cared about. Like chairs. And cutlery. I used to think I liked all silverware, and then I found myself saying things like, “OHMYGOD NO!!! THAT FORK IS TERRIFYING!”
I should probably retract my previous statement about not being crazy?
Anyhoo, my point is that the decision-making portion of my brain is straight mush right now, so I’m trying to give it a rest in all other areas of my life—i.e. feeding myself. The usually simple, “What should I have for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” question feels downright crippling, so I’ve been making a lot of the same things of late: smoothie for breakfast, some form of avocado toast and/or eggs for lunch, and one-skillet “creations” with fridge staples for dinner.
Said skillet meals have been quite delightful, and while I love a good stir-fry or grain-based skillet, I’ve been all about the cauliflower “rice” creations these days. They’re easy, nutritious, and light, and I feel great about the fact that I’m happily eating half a head of cauliflower in a single sitting. One of my go-to “non-recipe recipes” is just to add whatever meat and produce is in my fridge to the cauliflower rice, fold in some pesto, and top it with a responsible amount of cheese.
I made a particularly flavorful version of the above with crispy bacon, sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese last week, and it was so perfect for this time of year (September is peak tomato season, and there’s still corn at the market!) that I felt compelled to share it with you.
A couple quick recipe notes and you do you options before you run off to the kitchen to make your cauliflower rice bowls. First and foremost, please be careful not to overcook the cauliflower rice!! It cooks reallllly quickly and only needs 2-3 minutes—if you overdo it, it will get unforgivably mushy. For this particular recipe, I also urge you not to use frozen cauliflower rice. The extra water it releases isn’t ideal, especially since you’re adding pesto, so please make your own rice or pick up the refrigerated version if you decide to pick up pre-riced cauli. (Oh, and if you don’t do cauliflower, feel free to make this recipe with quinoa or brown rice.)
I used the Spinach Pesto from The Dude Diet in my rice because my roommate and I love it and always have some on hand in my fridge—it’s delicious, mild and dairy-free/vegan, which makes it both a crowd-pleaser and a little bit lighter than your average pesto. I highly recommend it, but you can obviously use your favorite recipe or a store-bought variety.
When it comes to meat, I’m all about the bacon in these cauliflower rice bowls, but you could easily sub pancetta, chicken or turkey sausage, or fold in a diced chicken breast at the end. Veggie peeps can also leave the meat out altogether!
I will probably eat this bowl several times over the next few weeks while wearing a work uniform of leggings and t-shirts to avoid anymore pre-wedding decisions, and I feel pretty could about that. Fingies crossed this recipe also eliminates at least one dinner decision this week on your end as well…
p.s. Yes, I know I’ve shared two cauliflower rice recipes in the space of a month. Sorry. I forgot about the last one because my brain is mushy.
Summer Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Bacon and Pesto: (Serves 2-3)
1 small(ish) head of cauliflower, florets removed (or 4 cups pre-made cauliflower rice)
4 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1 ear of sweet corn, kernels removed (or 1 cup canned or frozen sweet corn)
1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half crosswise
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/3 cup pesto (I used the Spinach Pesto from The Dude Diet—it’s cheeseless!)
½ teaspoon balsamic vinegar (optional)
1½-2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 scallion, thinly sliced
Preparing your Summer Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Bacon and Pesto:
-Start by prepping the cauliflower “rice.” Add half of the cauliflower florets to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until the florets become coarse granules that resemble rice. (Be careful not to over-process, or you’ll end up with cauliflower mush.) Transfer the cauliflower rice to a large bowl. Repeat this process until all of the cauliflower has been riced. Briefly set aside.
-Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and place a paper towel-lined plate by the stove. When hot, add the bacon and cook until well browned and crispy (about 3-4 minutes).
-Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to the prepared plate.
-Pour out all but about 1 tablespoon of bacon grease and return the skillet to the heat. Add the corn to the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes until just tender and lightly browned in spots.
-Set about half a cup of the tomatoes aside. Add the remaining tomatoes to the skillet along with the crushed red pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the tomatoes are just beginning to soften. (Don’t overcook the tomatoes, friends. They’re going to cook more once you add the “rice.”)
-Add the cauliflower rice and cook for about 2 minutes, just until it loses some of its “bite.” Cauliflower rice cooks REALLY fast, so don’t overdo it. (It will continue cooking once it’s removed from the heat.) Fold in the pesto and bacon. Taste and season with a little salt if necessary. Depending on the acidity level of your pesto, you may want to add the balsamic vinegar. (I personally love the zip it adds.)
-Transfer the rice to bowls and top with the reserved cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and scallions. Serve your cauliflower rice bowls immediately.
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