Side dishes are the background singers of some of the most amazing stars, like mashed potatoes with a juicy, rare steak or roasted asparagus alongside Ina Garten’s insanely delicious roast chicken. But sometimes the side dishes stand out on their own and you realize there was a star back there all along.
That’s what I found when I made this recipe for Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice & Beans. I was meal prepping my lunch for the week and needed a side to go with my grilled chicken. I had some frozen cauliflower rice from Trader Joe’s in my freezer, but wanted to give it some umph, some pazzazz.
When I started cooking the rice I felt it needed more than just salt. I looked at my spices and saw cumin and garlic powder and added them. Then I noticed a can of black beans (when did I buy that?) and thought, “Why not?”
I’m not going to lie, as I started to take a little taste I wasn’t expecting much. But then I was surprisingly blown away because it tasted really good. There was the pazzazz I was looking for. It was like the flavors were doing jazz hands in my mouth. The combination of the garlic powder and cumin also tasted slightly like adobo rice. I was one happy Filipina – and I wasn’t even done yet.
The rice had some bright flavors, but it didn’t look bright. It definitely needed a pop of color so I threw in some quartered grape tomatoes – and wow! It was like tasting the perfect Instagram filter.
The rice was good as is, but I didn’t feel like I was done with the layers of flavor yet. I looked in my fridge and saw that I had limes and cilantro. These two ingredients were either going to make or break my (accidental) creation. But I like taking chances and decided to go for it. So I took the pan off the heat and squeezed the lime on it and added the chopped cilantro.
And in the words of Johnny Gill…
“My, my, my…”
It’s true what they say that sometimes the best things happen when you least expect them. I’d also like to add that having cilantro, lime, cumin, garlic powder, grape tomatoes, and black beans (again, where did you come from?) on hand doesn’t hurt either.
This rice would go perfectly with anything you’re grilling, tacos (especially fish tacos), or filling a burrito. You can also top it with a sunny-side up egg (my personal favorite) or add cooked chicken and/or shrimp for a great one-pot meal. And if cauliflower rice isn’t your thing, this recipe is equally delicious with cooked white rice (day old is best) or brown rice. I haven’t tried it with quinoa yet, but I’m willing to bet it’s just as good.
Whether you follow the recipe as is or not, I hope you enjoy this Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice & Beans as much as I do and discover that it’s a really good background singer that deserves at least a solo – and definitely an encore.
- ¾ Tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- 1 12 oz. bag frozen cauliflower rice
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- 1 15.5 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
- 2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
- One half of a lime
- Heat oil in a large (12-inch) saute pan over medium-high heat
- Add frozen cauliflower rice, stir until heated through and softened, about 3-5 minutes
- Add cumin, garlic, powder, and ½ teaspoon salt
- Stir for one minute
- Add drained black beans, stirring for one minute
- Add grape tomatoes and stir for another minute
- Remove pan from heat
- Add cilantro, squeeze lime over rice, and stir to combine
- Add salt to taste if desired