As previously established, Dallas restaurants are getting on board with New Year's resolutions to be more healthy, with new menus and dishes deemed appropiate.
From those efforts, a trend has emerged, one that seems to qualify as the hottest trend so far in 2021: Cauliflower rice.
The way you can tell a trend is happening is when you see it three times. One cauliflower rice is intriguing. Two begins to sounds familiar. Three is a trend.
Cauliflower has been trending since at least 2017, and it's now used in myriad ways including formed into pizza crusts and sliced to approximate steak.
Cauliflower rice is cauliflower that's grated into rice-like bits which can be used to replace rice in certain dishes. Taste magazine tracked down its invention to chef Ben Ford, son of actor Harrison Ford, and also noted the rice industry's panic over the "misleading" use of the word "rice."
You can now buy it pre-shredded in bags at Trader Joe's and other supermarkets, and by some coincidence, it's been introduced during the first week of 2021 by three major chains.
In addition to those new offerings, this list also includes two already available in Dallas. As for the rest of you restaurants, it's not too late to start chipping away at that cauliflower head and transforming it into "rice."
Here's where you can find cauliflower rice around Dallas:
Freebirds World Burrito. The Texas burrito chain just launched cauliflower rice and low-carb bowls at all Texas locations.
Freebirds CEO Alex Eagle says that "health and wellness have become a top priority for a lot of people over the last year. At the beginning of every year, many Texans strive to eat cleaner and improve their overall diet. We wanted to provide our fans with an easy and delicious choice to help them with their goals. Our cauliflower rice is seasoned and freshly prepared in a way that is far lower in carbs than rice, but still packed with flavor."
Their new cauliflower rice is made with diced cauliflower, then lightly seasoned for "a hint of spice." You don't want your cauliflower rice too spicy. It has all the buzzwords: It's a keto, gluten-free, paleo-friendly, low-carb alternative, and for an extra $1.50, you can replace it in for the rice in any burrito, bowl, or entrée.
Their new low-carb bowls featuring cauliflower rice include:
- Keto Burrito Bowl, with cauliflower rice, steak, salsa, cheese, and guacamole
- Paleo Burrito Bowl, with cauliflower rice, chicken, sauteed veggies, mild tomatillo, and guacamole
Chipotle Mexican Grill just debuted Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, made with riced cauliflower, cilantro, lime, and salt. The recipe, which was tested in Denver and Wisconsin, is a twist on Chipotle’s classic white rice, using the same ingredients and similar culinary techniques. But it's cauliflower instead of rice. It costs an extra $2.
Chipotle's new cauliflower-rice-loaded bowls include:
- Whole30 Bowl: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, chicken, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and guac
- Keto Bowl: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, chicken, tomatillo-red salsa, cheese, and guac
- Vegetarian Salad Bowl: Supergreens lettuce blend, Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, black beans, fajita veggies, tomato salsa, and guac
- Vegan Bowl: Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice, black beans, sofritas, tomato salsa, roasted chili-corn salsa, and romaine lettuce
El Pollo Loco is bringing back Pollo Fit Bowls with, you got it, cilantro lime cauliflower rice — the same flavor combo used at Chipotle.
These bowls feature the cauliflower rice, and also double the serving of chicken, to jack up the protein. The lineup includes:
- Double Protein Avocado Pollo Fit Bowl: Double portion of citrus marinated fire-grilled chopped chicken breast, organic super greens, lettuce blend with red cabbage, cilantro lime cauliflower rice, avocados, Tapatío seasoning, pico de gallo salsa, and queso fresco.
- Double Protein Fajita Pollo Fit Bowl: Double portion of citrus marinated fire-grilled chopped chicken breast, organic super greens, lettuce blend with red cabbage, seasoned black beans, fajita vegetables, avocados, Tapatío seasoning, and queso fresco. This bowl has a ridiculous 52 grams of protein.
- Double Protein Mexican Caesar Pollo Fit Bowl: Double portion of citrus marinated fire-grilled chopped chicken breast, organic super greens, lettuce blend with red cabbage, radishes, cotija cheese, avocados, Tapatío seasoning, and a lemon wedge.
Zoe's Kitchen. Popular Mediterranean chain has a cauliflower rice bowl that's so beloved, it has spawned countless copycat recipes from industrious food bloggers online. It stars chilled cauliflower rice with tzatziki sauce, feta cheese, sliced cucumbers, "skhug" — a hot sauce made with peppers, garlic, and coriander — and fresh dill, which all the food bloggers say is the magic ingredient that gives the dish its flair.
HGSply Co., the Dallas-based chain with locations on Greenville Avenue, plus Fort Worth and Trophy Club, was an early adopter on Paleo/Keto stuff. That includes its popular Fried "Rice" bowl, with cauliflower fried rice, broccoli, shredded carrots, edamame, and green onions sautéed in tamari and sesame with honey-garlic Brussels sprouts and a sunny-side egg.
Stephanie Allmon-Merry contributed to this story.