This harissa cauliflower rice bowl is a hearty, feel-good recipe and it’s totally vegan! Perfect for meatless Mondays or to impress your plant-based friends.
If you’re trying to add more meatless meals into your diet, or you’re just trying to bump up the amount of vegetables that you’re eating, this spicy vegan harissa bowl is an absolute winner. Not only is it packed with nutrients, it’s also packed with spicy, smoky harissa paste that you’ll be thinking about days later!
If you haven’t heard me talk about this miracle chili paste before, allow me to explain why I am so obsessed! I first had it a few years ago at a restaurant in DC called Cava Grill. Basically, it’s a combination of oil, garlic, tomato paste, and crushed red chilis and can give even the most boring of meals a much needed kick!
Fortunately for you, this recipe is anything but boring, and it’s so filling that you definitely won’t be missing the meat. I like to make a big batch of the harissa vegetable mixture at the beginning of the week, then heat up some fresh rice to make a fresh bowl every day for lunch. I use it all the time in salad dressings, or just with a fresh pita! Basically, harissa my favorite thing ever and if you haven’t tried it yet you need it in your life!
This is one of those meals that looks, and tastes, like you’ve been slow cooking for hours – the hearty veg, the spicy harissa paste and the fresh herbs. But the whole thing comes together in only 45 minutes, so it couldn’t be easier to throw together for a mid-week meal or a work lunch prep.
I’m always trying to eat more veggies and this recipe is one of my favorite ways to do so! It’s also really versatile, so you could add in all of your favorite vegetables. Plus, it’s completely vegan, so if you’re hosting a gathering with some vegan friends and don’t know what to serve, this is it!
Cauliflower Rice Bowl Ingredients Needed
- Basmati Rice: I find the light, fluffy texture of basmati rice perfect for this recipe, but you could swap it out for brown rice or another rice of your choosing. I love making a big batch of rice and using it for a couple of days but if you’re taking this recipe to work, or you’re just short on time then I also love using the little microwave rice packets!
- Red Lentils: Red and yellow lentils have a perfect texture for dishes like this as they sort of ‘break down’ to form more of a stew-like consistency. If you wanted, you could use brown or green lentils however they tend to hold their shape a little more so the end texture would be a little different.
- Cauliflower: The texture of cauliflower is fantastic for meat free dishes – it’s hearty, filling and soaks up any sauces between all the little crevices in the florets. You could also experiment with adding in other favorite vegetables of yours like zucchini or bell peppers.
- Cilantro: The bright kick of cilantro in this dish cuts through the spicy harissa and really rounds out the flavors in the recipe. But if you’re not a fan of cilantro, you could swap it out for flat leaf parsley instead!
(Scroll down to the bottom for the printable recipe card with exact measurements and instructions.)
- Harissa paste: Blend all of your harissa ingredients in a food processor until smooth.
- Rice: Cook your rice according to package instructions. I like to cook it in vegetable broth and add a knob of butter when its cooked (you could use dairy free butter here).
- Fry: In a large pan, try the onion until translucent, then add in the garlic and cauliflower until the cauliflower begins to soften.
- Simmer: Add in the lentils, stock, tomatoes and harissa, and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer for around 15 minutes.
- Serve: Add the cilantro into the basmati rice, and serve the harissa vegetable mix on top of the rice.
This rice bowl recipe keeps well in the fridge for up to 3 days. I like to store my vegetable mixture separately from the rice so that the rice doesn’t soak up too much of the liquid. If you don’t mind that, then just store it all together! The rice will absorb the rich flavor of the vegetables and it’s so easy to pack in a container for work!
Once you’ve made your harissa paste for this recipe, you can store any extras in a small airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. I love using leftover harissa paste in salad dressings, or spread onto pitas or sandwiches. You can also easily freeze the harissa paste in ice cube trays and then once frozen, pop the cubes into a Ziploc bag so you can defrost one at a time when cooking!
- Grain Free: If you’re on a grain free diet then you could swap out the rice in this recipe for Quinoa! It’s hearty, filling and great at soaking up the flavor of sauces but it’s actually a seed, not a grain! Just cook the quinoa as per package instructions.
- Low Carb: If you’re on a low carb diet you could swap the rice in this recipe out for cauliflower rice! Simply fry the cauliflower rice with a touch of oil on medium heat until it has softened. Or if that feels like a bit of cauliflower overkill, you could try one of the low carb shirataki or tofu rice alternatives.
- 2 cups cooked basmati rice (I used vegetable broth in mine and butter but feel free to leave out the latter if making vegan)
- 1 red onion, diced
- 1 tbs. olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 bunch cilantro
- 2-3 cups of cauliflower florets
- 1 cup red lentils
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- ¾ cup harissa (see recipe below) UPDATE: if you prefer a less spicy dish, feel free to slowly add-in the harissa according to your spice level preference!
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- Harissa Paste
- 6 oz. tomato paste
- 1 cup crushed red chili
- 1 clove garlic
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ bunch cilantro
- 1 tbs. salt
- 2 tsp. pepper
- In a food processor add all of the ingredients for the harissa into a food processor and blend until smooth.
- Cook basmati rice according to package instructions (I used vegetable broth in mine and butter but feel free to leave out the latter if making vegan) and then sit aside until ready to eat then add in the cilantro.
- In a large fry pan, add the olive oil and the red onion and cook until the onion is translucent.
- Add in the garlic and the cauliflower and let cook until the cauliflower begins to soften (about 6-8 minutes)
- Add in the lentils, vegetable stock, tomatoes and harissa and stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Serve cauliflower mixture on top of the basmati rice (be sure to add in the cilantro right before eating) immediately, or keep in the fridge for up to 3 days!
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