So, jumping on the Paleo wagon removed a whole lot of food from my fridge and pantry that I would consider staples. Rice, being a huge one. Pasta – my all time favourite food. And things you don’t think of so often – like tomato sauce (not paste) or breadcrumbs or flour.
But there are things you can use as substitutes, some better than others, and I thought I’d just run through a couple of the ones I’ve latched onto. Basic, yes, and there are loads of alternate recipes if you Google it, but here are a couple that work for me and mine. I’ll add more as I go along 🙂
[One basic direct substitution we love is dukkah for breadcrumbs. EG on Chicken Schnitzel. Just brush oil on your fillet then sprinkle it with dukkah and fry. Yum!]
Substitute Cauliflower for …. Rice:
I used to eat rice a lot. I mean, we bought it in 5kg bags because we went through so much. One of our favourite meals: steak, egg and rice. Yummmm. But, now not an option and I’m ok with that – its not like I can really miss the flavour, right? But I do miss having that bland, liquid soaking texture in certain meals, like Thai Green Curry. So, our solution?
I’ve read lots of variations of this, and loads of recipes call for it, but it actually took me a while to find a “How to make Cauliflower Rice” recipe. I tinkered because I wasn’t happy with some outcomes, and this is what I’ve come up with to create a reasonably fluffy rice that will actually soak up sauce:
[This makes enough for 2-3 people. Prep time is about 10 minutes and cook time about 10 minutes]
- 1 head cauliflower, chopped into large florets
- Oil [I prefer to use olive – but your choice]
- Spices to suit – I just use garlic powder generally
- Equipment: board & knife, food processor, bowl, large frypan.
Ensure the cauliflower is dry. Moisture is your enemy here! Buzz the florets in a food processor until grainy, removing the grounds regularly as you go to ensure you don’t get any that is over processed. Place in a bowl and set aside until you 10 minutes from chow time…I imagine cold cauliflower rice would be fairly unappealing!
When its time – heat your oil in a large frypan. Add your chosen spices to your rice and stir well; if you are using fresh garlic, I’d add it to your oil now so it heats with the oil. Add the ‘rice’ in manageable amounts [I have a really big pan so it all goes in at once] and stir fry your ‘rice’ until it is heated through and a little soft. This should take no more than ten minutes – taste it to know.
Serve with your favourite meal J You’ll find some recipes call for you to cook the cauliflower florets first, but I find the frying from raw is what allows this rice to soak up sauces like actual rice would. If its cooked first, its soaked in moisture already and can tend to be gluggy. Boo to that!
Substitute Zucchini for…Pasta:
Again, something I heard SO much about but it’s as if the recipe owners just assume you know how to produce this wondrous thing. So important fact #1 – this will NOT taste like pasta does. Sorry. Important fact #2 – if you over cook it you might as well toss it. It will NOT go well with the food you’d planned to put it with. Important fact #3 – when I say medium zucchini I am referring to one that is approx. 25cm long and has a girth of 4-5 cm.
[Prep time depends on how many people but should be no more than 10mins. Cook time is 30 seconds. For real.]
- 1 medium zucchini per person [adult]
- Equipment: Julienne [spaghetti] or flat vegetable peeler [fettucine] or a ‘spiralizer’ [loads of shapes], microwave safe dish large enough for your ‘pasta’ [or cook it in batches], microwave.
Peel the skin from your zucchini & discard. Using the peeler, peel the zucchini length ways to make your ‘pasta’. Try to rotate the zucchini per slice so you arrive at the seeds on all sides at once. It’s not imperative – it’s just easier. Once you get to the seeds, stop. Give the core to the worm farm. Place your pasta into your microwave dish and add about 2cm of very hot or boiling water. Put in microwave on high for 30 seconds. Drain the water out immediately and cover to keep warm if not serving straight away.
Draining the water out immediately afterwards and only cooking for 30 seconds ensures your pasta will have an ‘al dente’ texture and not be mush. Which has happened to me before and it was terrible. Ugh.
Anyways so that’s it for now, just a couple of simple ones – let me know if you’ve got any simple substitution recipes to share – I’d love to read them 🙂
As always – thanks for reading and take care out there x