The first time I made larb bowls for work, I was a little nervous. I wasn't sure how well this group was going to accept this Thai-inspired dish. Thankfully, everyone loved the meal and some even asked for the recipe! Since then I have been making different variations of the rice bowl including these cauliflower larb bowls. Filled with goodies like lemongrass coconut rice, saucy roasted cauliflower, garlicky spinach, pickled cucumbers, and fresh herbs, it's quickly become one of my favorite dishes to make and eat!
Cauliflower Larb Bowls
Quick pickled cucumbers
- 2 Persian cucumbers
- ½ small red onion
- ½ cup boiling hot water
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
Lemongrass coconut rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 stalk lemongrass bruised with the back of a knife
- 2 cups jasmine rice
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 head cauliflower cut into florets
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Thai chile minced
- 4 scallions sliced
- 4 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 10 ounces spinach
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- salt and pepper
- ¼ cup fresh mint roughly chopped
- ¼ cup fresh Thai basil roughly chopped
- ¼ cup cilantro roughly chopped
- 2 avocados sliced
- lime juice
- Prepare pickled cucumbers. Thinly slice cucumbers and red onion. Combine boiling water with sugar, salt, and rice wine vinegar, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add cucumbers and red onion and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Make lemongrass coconut rice. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat. Add minced garlic, minced ginger, and lemongrass. Saute until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add jasmine rice and lightly toast, about 1-2 minutes. Add water and coconut milk and bring to a boil. Cover the pot, reduce heat to low, and continue to cook for 15 minutes or until the rice is light and fluffy.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Toss cauliflower florets with ground ginger, salt, black pepper, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Spread cauliflower in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepot over medium heat. Add minced garlic, Thai chile, and scallions. Saute for 1 minute, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and juice of ½ a lime. Simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove cauliflower from the oven and toss with sauce.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add spinach and minced garlic. Saute until spinach has wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble cauliflower larb bowls. Scoop rice into 4 bowls and top with cauliflower larb, pickled cucumbers and onions, garlicky spinach, sliced avocado, and fresh herbs. Drizzle any extra sauce from the cauliflower on top and squeeze extra lime juice. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
No matter which protein you choose, this larb bowl will be a winner. I've prepared the bowl with chicken, turkey, beef, pork, and even tofu, all well received. Today I wanted to make a vegetarian version so I'm swapping out the meat for roasted cauliflower.
To make the cauliflower, simply roast the vegetable with ground ginger, salt, pepper, and olive oil for 15-20 minutes. While that's cooking, make the sauce by simmering together garlic, Thai chile, scallions, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and lime juice. If you don't want your cauliflower larb bowls to be spicy, omit the Thai chile. Once the cauliflower is tender, toss it in the sauce and keep it warm.
While the cauliflower is roasting, make the coconut lemongrass rice. This is, by far, one of my favorite ways to prepare rice. The lemongrass, garlic, ginger, and coconut milk add a subtle flavor to rice that works so well with these bowls. You can still taste the aromatics but it's not overwhelming and doesn't compete with the cauliflower.
Now for the toppings. To add an acidic element to balance the dish, we're adding pickled cucumbers. You can make the pickled cucumbers several days in advance to save some time. If you're making the cucumbers the day of, just be sure to use boiling water. This will help speed up the process.
Saute some spinach with a good amount of garlic and season with salt and pepper. You can substitute spinach for any other type of green vegetable including kale, swiss chard, or watercress.
And of course, you can't forget all the fresh herbs. The herbs add so much flavor to the cauliflower larb bowls and are essential to complete the dish. Drizzle some of the leftover cauliflower sauce right on the bowls, squeeze some lime, and dinner is served.
These cauliflower larb bowls are packed full of flavor and texture. From the creamy avocado to the savory cauliflower to the sour pickles, it hits every note and it's just darn delicious!
For more cauliflower inspiration check out this cauliflower and chickpea vadouvan curry!