Happy Friday, everyone! With school either in full swing or about to start, who needs a 5-ingredient kid-friendly healthy recipe? This Dirty Cauliflower Rice (more on the name later!) is just that, and I’m not exaggerating when I say my kids love this meal!
What ingredients are in this Dirty Cauliflower Rice?
There are just 5 non-pantry ingredients in this Dirty Cauliflower Rice. I consider olive oil, salt, and pepper “pantry” ingredients that you should always have in your kitchen so I didn’t count them in the number of ingredients. I listed them here for you so that you know the full list of what you need!
- Ground beef (bison, pork or turkey work fine too!)
- Jarred tomato-based pasta sauce (look for a brand that has no added sugar – I like Rao’s or Monte Bene!)
- Cauliflower (you can substitute purchased fresh cauliflower rice if you prefer!)
- Olive oil
- Coarse salt
- Fresh parsley or chives (optional ingredients)
This recipe uses a partial jar of pasta sauce. It’s not meant to make this taste Italian in any way. I like how It adds a bit of flavor and prevents the dish from tasting dry. You can use any flavor of sauce you like, and the leftover jarred sauce can be used the next night for a quick pasta meal.
How did I name this Dirty Cauliflower Rice?
Okay, about the name. My high school English teacher gets the credit for the inspiration for this recipe because she used to make a dish called Dirty Rice. She would bring it to school potluck events for sports or other occasions (I grew up in a really small school, so everyone knew each other well). Anyway, she shared the recipe with me once (yes, I was a recipe junky from a very young age!), and I would make it from time to time. It, too, was about 5 ingredients (rice, ground beef, and some seasoning mixes), and it tasted really good.
With my Dirty Cauliflower Rice, I wanted to stay true to the speed and look of her original recipe, while healthifying it a bit by adding vegetables (the cauliflower) and eliminating the less-than-healthy seasoning mixes (swapping in chopped onion, garlic, and jarred pasta sauce in their place). This dish is not a thing of beauty, but given the name, I think you can see why. The rice, or in this case, “cauliflower rice”, is meant to look dirty, which the ground beef and pasta sauce take care of.
What else can I use cauliflower rice for?
I just LOVE all the things that you can do with cauliflower rice! It’s a great vehicle for a lot of different flavors and it can add a lot of nutrition to any meal!
Here are a few other recipes that I’ve created that use cauliflower rice:
- Toasted Sesame Cauliflower Rice
- Confetti Cauliflower Rice
- Chicken and Black Bean Cauliflower Rice Burrito Bowls
- Mexican Dirty Cauliflower Rice
For those weeknights when you have next to no time to cook because you’re running in multiple directions, make this 5-ingredient kid-friendly healthy recipe.
Dirty Cauliflower Rice: 5-Ingredient Kid-Friendly Healthy Recipe
- 1 pound ground beef, ground bison, ground turkey, or ground pork
- ¾ cup onion
- 6 cloves garlic, minced
- 2/3 cup jarred tomato-based pasta sauce (any flavor, preferably with no-added-sugar)
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ teaspoon coarse salt
- Chopped fresh parsley or chives (optional)
- In a large skillet cook ground beef, onion and garlic over medium heat until meat is no longer pink and onion is tender, using a potato masher to coarsely break up meat as it cooks. Drain off fat if necessary. Add pasta sauce. Stir until well combined. Transfer meat mixture to a medium bowl; set aside.
- While meat is cooking, place cauliflower florets in a food processor. Cover and pulse until finely chopped (cauliflower should resemble rice).
- In the same skillet used to cook the meat mixture, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add finely chopped cauliflower; sprinkle with salt. Cook, uncovered, for 4 to 5 minutes or until cauliflower is just tender, stirring occasionally.
- Add meat mixture to cauliflower rice. Cook and stir over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until well combined and heated through. If desired, sprinkle with parsley or chives to serve.
Darn! I saw this recipe and thought it looked great! I was looking for something low-carb that used ground beef. Unfortunately I am allergic to tomatoes. I may still make it for the others and just leave out a bit with no sauce for me. Maybe a red pepper sauce would work?
Hi Candra, thanks for your comment! I think a red pepper sauce would taste great here, or, mix basil pesto with a little chicken broth or water and add that in place of the pasta sauce. I’m thinking 1/3 to 1/2 cup pesto mixed with 2 or 3 tablespoons broth or water would be great. Good luck and I hope you love it!
Me too! I am trying out the chicken broth instead! Maybe another time balsamic vinegar.
I hope you like it Annie! You may want to cook it down a bit after adding the broth since that could make it a bit more watery. It will add good flavor though! I would probably add a little balsamic vinegar at the very end in addition to using the broth – it would add a nice zip of flavor! Just a thought…
Made this tonight and my five year old ate it! Thank you so much for an actual healthy recipe!
Thanks Shaylei. I appreciate you letting me know your 5-year-old liked it! Happy healthy cooking!
If I just use pre-riced cauliflower, how much should I use?
Use 4 cups of the pre-riced cauliflower. Hope you like it!
I just don’t know what I would serve this alongside? Sounds good, but can’t be enough for just a meal.
Thanks for the comment, Stephanie! I like to serve this with a simple side salad and some fruit at the end of the meal! I hope you like it!
I calculated 9 smartpoints on the WW calculator. I am on Freestyle and maybe that is fewer points.
Thanks for sharing! I not familiar enough with the WW points to know exactly how many points it would be for the different programs.
We made this but added 2 seeded, diced jalapenos. Gave it a little kick!
That sounds fantastic, Dale! Thanks for sharing!
What sauce did you use?
I like Rao’s Marinara Sauce. I get it at Whole Foods in my area. I hope that helps!
I love this recipe. I make weekly for my work lunches. Easy and healthy! Thank you
Thank you so much for letting me know, Trisha! I’m glad to hear you like it! I forgot to mention that you should try this Mexican Dirty Cauliflower Rice recipe – it’s similar to the original Dirty Cauliflower Rice but has Mexican flavors – you might like to alternate it into your meal prep!
Just made this for my picky son and he loved it!
Thanks so much for letting me know! I am glad your son loved this! Check out this Mexican Dirty Cauliflower Rice for another option similar to this recipe – it’s a bit like a burrito bowl!
This was very good! I’m on a low carb diet and this is my first successful attempt at a family meal with my two small children where they liked it! I used frozen riced cauliflower instead of fresh. It was very good and filling.
Thanks for letting me know you and your kids liked this, Christy! You might also like this recipe, which is similar but uses Mexican flavors. Mexican Dirty Cauliflower Rice
I am looking forward to trying this. When I made conventional dirty rice, I used fresh breakfast sausage instead of the ground beef, so I’ll probably make that change with this as well.
That sounds like a tasty swap, Sheryl! Let me know how you like it once you try it!
Super yum! Added celery, mushrooms, about a cup of leftover quinoa, salt, pepper, & a few other spices. Very customizable, fast, & easy to make! Pinning!
Thanks for your comment and for sharing what additions you made to the recipe! I especially love the addition of quinoa and mushrooms! Yum! Happy cooking!