This is a spin on shrimp and grits, a Cajun favorite, using cajun-spiced baby bell peppers and black beans piled on top of cheesy cauliflower grits.
Cauliflower rice is my new thing. And since I’m trying to be grain-free for a month (1 week down, 3 to go!), it’s been a great substitute in some favorite dishes.
This is my latest tinkering with cauliflower rice – and it rocks, you guys! Cauliflower grits! Who knew??!! Although this dish is an easy weeknight dinner – it comes together in under 30 minutes, it works really well for a crowd too. If you make this for the upcoming holiday weekend, you might want to throw the peppers on the grill using a grill basket instead of roasting them in the oven. Especially if you’ve got the grill all fired up anyway. If you like a little more heat, add a couple of jalapeño peppers to the mix. Either way, you can make it all ahead of time and just assemble and warm it up before serving.
Cook Like a Chef
Make Your Own Cajun Spice
I make my own cajan spice mix – the store bought ones can be heavier in cumin that I want. But feel free to save some time and buy it. Many spice manufacturers offer one. If you make your own, I recommend grinding it for a few minutes using a mortar and pestle, just to freshen up the aroma of the spices. The recipe I use is based on this one, although I made a few changes to it. I’ll post it later this week!
The Best Peppers
I used baby bell peppers because they’re just the right size for this dish. I just slice them in half and trim off the tops and any pith with a sharp knife. If you don’t see a bag of them at the market, you can use regular-sized ones and just slice them down to smaller pieces. I recommend a mixture of colors.
Tips for Making Cauliflower Rice
Full confession: I’ve been so busy lately, I’ve been using frozen bags of cauliflower rice. But you can easily make your own. There are at least 3 approaches. (1) Grate a head of cauliflower using the largest holes on a box grater; (2) slice a cauliflower into 2″- pieces and use the grater attachment for a food processor, or (3) just throw them into the bowl of the food processor and break them down that way. I don’t tend to use #3 as much, as cooked cauliflower is easy to over-process and wind up as a sauce or something resembling mashed potatoes.
Tips for Making Cauliflower Grits
Once I steam the cauliflower rice, I add it to the smallest bowl of the food processor fitted with a small blade, along with the other ingredients for the grits and pulse until I have the grits consistency I want. I tried my powerful blender in various sized containers, and even tried using the immersible blender. Trust me, the smallest bowl of a food processor is by far the fastest and easiest way to go.
Cajun Peppers and Cauliflower 'Grits'
Cajun-Spiced Peppers and Beans
- 8 baby bell peppers
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more to drizzle at the end
- 2 teaspoons Cajun spice, divided
- 1 cup cooked black beans
Cheesy Cauliflower 'Grits'
- 1 12-ounce bag frozen cauliflower rice
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons Half & Half
- 1/4 cup grated Monterey Jack cheese, or other melty cheese
- 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup roasted pumpkin seeds
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley
Preheat the oven to 425˚F.
Slice the baby peppers in half, remove the stems and seeds, and trim away any remaining pith. Arrange on a baking sheet, with the scooped out sides facing up, and massage with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the spice over them. Roast for 15 minutes, or until softened.
Toss the black beans with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 teaspoon spice. Feel free to warm them up, although I didn't find it necessary.
Place a steam basket in a medium pot, and add enough water to the pot that the water level comes to just below the basket. Bring to a boil, and add the frozen cauliflower rice to the basket. Cover and steam for 10 minutes, or until softened.
Add the steamed cauliflower to the smallest bowl of a food processor along with all of the other ingredients for the Cauliflower Grits. Place the top on, and pulse several times until you have the grits consistency you want.
Place the grits on a serving plate, and top with the beans and roasted peppers. Add a flurry of roasted pumpkin seeds and either parsley or cilantro before serving.
If you love cauliflower like I do, go check out my cauliflower board on Pinterest:
And if you make this dish, I’d love to see a photo!!! Just put it on Instagram and tag @thewimpyvegetarian !