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, spiced 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 cup water boiling hot
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup rice wine vinegar
- ½ red onion thinly sliced
Lemongrass coconut rice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger minced
- 1 stalk lemongrass
- 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 tablespoon olive oil divided
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Thai chile minced
- 4 scallions sliced
- 4 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoon fish sauce
- juice of ½ lime
- 1 tablespoon oil
- 10 ounces spinach
- 1 tablespoon 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 the pickled cucumbers. Thinly slice the cucumbers and red onion. Combine ½ cup boiling water with 1 tablespoon sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ cup rice wine vinegar, stirring until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Add the cucumbers and red onion and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Make the lemongrass coconut rice. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium saucepot over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 1 teaspoon minced ginger, and 1 stalk of lemongrass. Saute until lightly browned, about 30 seconds. Add 2 cups jasmine rice and lightly toast, about 1-2 minutes. Add 2 cups water and 1 cup 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 the cauliflower florets with ½ teaspoon ground ginger, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and 2 tablespoon olive oil. Spread the cauliflower in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until fork-tender.
- Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a small saucepot over medium heat. Add 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 Thai chile, and 4 sliced scallions and saute for 30 seconds, making sure not to burn the garlic. Add 4 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 teaspoon fish sauce, and the juice of ½ a lime. Simmer until the sauce has slightly thickened, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and toss with the sauce.
- Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the spinach and 1 tablespoon minced garlic and saute until the spinach has wilted about 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
- Assemble the cauliflower larb bowls. Scoop the rice onto 4 bowls and top with the 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 greens 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!