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 !