brunch/entertaining/recipes/seafood/Vegetarian Recipes

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Cauliflower Rice Paella Recipe

Posted May 21, 2017 by Stephanie

Give me all the carbs all the time, except when I’m feeling like it’s spring and it’s time to come out of hibernation. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll never give up rice for real, but sometimes a lighter meal is called for and in times like these, it’s cauliflower rice to the rescue!

This was my first time making cauliflower rice and I was a little skeptical. First, I was skeptical of how the “rice” was made. Spoiler, it’s kind of messy but really easy if you use a blender or food processor. Then I was skeptical of how it would cook. Would it get mushy? Turns out my fears were for naught because the rice cooked up tender crisp in that way you want vegetables to taste.

So, in reality this doesn’t taste exactly like paella with bomba rice will taste, but only texturally because it’s actually light and flavorful and full of health! The flavors are the paella you know and love thanks to the saffron and smoked paprika. I loved the smokiness and the shrimp and in the end didn’t even miss rice. I think I could really get into this vegetable thing!

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Cauliflower Rice Paella Recipe -

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Cauliflower Rice Paella Recipe
serves 4

  • 1 head cauliflower, trimmed into small florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large tomato, grated
  • 1.5 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 12 large shrimp, deveined
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 1 large handful French beans or green beans, trimmed and cut in half
  • lemon, thinly sliced
  • microgreens

Notes: I left the shells on the shrimp for some extra flavor, but feel free to use shell off shrimp as well.

To rice the cauliflower, place florets into a blender or food processor and blitz, seconds at a time, until it breaks up into small rice sized pieces.

Soak the saffron threads in 2 tablespoons of hot water for 15 minutes. Stir into your stock and then toss the cauliflower rice in the saffron stock mixture, being sure to mix well. Set aside.

In your paella pan (or large heavy bottomed pan), heat up the oil over medium heat. When hot, add the onions and stir, until slightly translucent. Add the garlic and cook until just fragrant, but not brown. Add the tomato and turn up the heat to medium-high and reduce slightly, cooking off some of the tomato juice. Add the paprika and season with a good amount of salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the shrimp and cook, flipping once, until shrimp is cooked through. Remove the shrimp and set aside. Add the zucchini and beans and stir to coat. Evenly add the cauliflower rice to the pan, spreading it out to the edges. Let cook, on medium high, for 8-10 minutes, or until tender. The stock that you soaked the cauliflower rice in will help the cauliflower steam up. When the cauliflower rice looks dry and the edges are starting to brown a bit, you’re almost done! If your cauliflower is not tender enough, add a couple of tablespoons of water to help steam. Add the shrimp back on top and turn the heat to high to get a bit of crispiness on the bottom. When the pan starts smoking and you smell toastiness, turn the heat off. Season with a salt and freshly ground pepper and top with thin slices of lemon and microgreens. Enjoy!

Shrimp and Spring Vegetable Cauliflower Rice Paella Recipe -


  1. Becca says:

    this sounds awesome! I have a question about the saffron. So first you soak it and add to the stock, do you strain out the saffron at that point, since you have “add the saffron” again later, but it sounds like it’s already been added to the stock and cauliflower? Forgive me if I missed something obvious!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi becca,
      thanks for catching that! just a typo, the saffron goes into the stock, with the soaking liquid. i fixed it :)

  2. ¿Why should you pour the saffron when the stew boils?

  3. Rene says:

    Hi just made this recipe, it was great!! Only problem was that there is no mention on when to put the paprika.

    1. Stephanie says:

      i’m so happy that you liked it! thanks for catching that – i’ve updated the recipe :)

  4. Sophie says:

    I have been a stalwart holdout on the subject of cauliflower rice, but this recipe intrigued me and I am shocked to say it was so so good! Thank you for converting me! My only modification was to add a splash of white wine in the tomato step because the pan seemed near burning before adding the shrimp, and I think it may have bumped the flavor even higher. Great recipe!

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi sophie! so awesome that you’re a cauli rice convert :) pro tip on the wine too!

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