Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Pilaf is an incredibly easy, flavorful side dish for any night of the week! This pilaf is tossed with dates, olives, toasted almonds, and drizzled with a quick orange vinaigrette.
Welcome to the side dish that’s about to save your life on weeknights.
I’ve got several sides planned for these coming spring months. Because when aren’t you needing a good, simple side dish?!
Side dishes are hard. I’m usually roasting up a batch of sweet potato fries or making an easy herbed rice (recipe soon?! Yay or nay?). Or just drizzling a mixture of vegetables with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Hubby never complains, and that’s what counts. Nobody likes sad, soggy broccoli.
This is definitely NOT the case with this Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Pilaf! It’s seasoned just perfectly, drizzled with a very light orange vinaigrette, and it pairs well with any protein or grain (for my vegetarian/vegan friends!).
I definitely haven’t always been on the cauliflower rice bandwagon. It was “diet food” back in the day, so after I embraced intuitive eating, I avoided it like the plague. But recently, it’s found its way back into my life, and I’m kinda glad about it!
I suppose if you really wanted, you could use any grain in place of the cauliflower rice. Like brown rice or freekeh or farro. Just to name a few!
Check out these other super simple sides:
The first night I made this pilaf, I served it up with Tandoori-style chicken but it would also be great with a lemon and garlic grilled chicken or pan-seared salmon. Perhaps with a simple arugula side salad? Anything that’s loosely Mediterranean-inspired will pair well. Endless options.
So a few things will save you time right off the bat with this recipe:
- Frozen cauliflower rice is totally acceptable and encouraged. I do NOT have time to pulse an entire head of cauliflower after work on a weeknight. Trader Joe’s sells 12 oz. bags of frozen cauliflower rice at $1.99 each. Can’t say enough good things about them! Contrast that with a single head of cauliflower which can be upwards of $3.50 at your local grocery store! I’m not a fan of the refrigerated pre-packaged cauliflower rice. For some reason, the texture is just weird to me. I prefer frozen or fresh!
- If you’re making cauliflower rice from a head of cauliflower, don’t overload the food processor. You’ll want to pulse it until you get a fine, rice-like texture. If using fresh cauliflower, you don’t need to drain any excess moisture. Just toss it right in the pan!
- Whip up the dressing while the celery and cauliflower rice cook. It will take you about an entire minute.
- Try not to eat all the dates while you’re chopping them. WHYYYY are they so good?!?! Those things are DANGEROUSLY delicious (isn’t that from the old Cheetos commercial…?).
Start by sauteeing the onion and celery with the cauliflower rice. Then all you have left to do is stir in the add-ins and drizzle with orange vinaigrette! How simple is that?!
Here’s what’s going into our Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Pilaf:
- Chopped Medjool dates (use Noor dates if you can’t find Medjool)
- Tangy green (or kalamata!) olives
- Toasted almonds
- Fresh minced parsley
- A beautiful and light orange vinaigrette (lemon would make a good substitute as well)
- … and because I can’t do anything without cheese, I highly recommend tossing some feta in there.
This is proof that cauliflower rice can be insanely delicious, filling, sweet, savory, and the perfect side dish.
Here’s to keeping the start of spring light and fresh!
Pin this Mediterranean Cauliflower Rice Pilaf for later!
This easy, flavorful side dish comes together in just 15 minutes and pairs perfectly with any protein or grain!
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
- 3 stalks celery, finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 (12-oz.) packages frozen cauliflower rice (or 2 small heads of cauliflower, pulsed into rice)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1/2 c. chopped Medjool dates
- 1/2 c. green olives or kalamata olives
- 1/4 c. sliced toasted almonds
- Optional: 1/2 c. feta cheese
- 1 c. fresh parsley, minced
- 1/4 c. olive oil
- 1/4 c. orange juice (from 1-2 oranges)
- Zest of 1 orange
- 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add olive oil, onion, and celery. Saute until tender and translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic for 30 seconds, then add the cauliflower rice. Cook, stirring occasionally, until cauliflower rice is just barely golden and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Remove from heat. Stir in chopped dates, olives, toasted almonds, and minced parsley.
To make the dressing, add olive oil, orange juice, orange zest, cider vinegar, and garlic to a small bowl or glass container with a lid. Season with salt and pepper. Whisk or shake vigorously to incorporate. Drizzle dressing over the cauliflower rice pilaf and serve warm.
Nutrition information per serving:
Calories: 190 Protein: 4g Carbs: 17g Fat: 12g Fiber: 4g