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Cauliflower “Rice” Risotto with Mushrooms and Rosemary

Ever since I discovered that you can make “rice” from cauliflower (see: cauliflower fried rice), I’ve wanted to try making a risotto out of the stuff. The problem is that the characteristics of cauliflower are pretty much the opposite of rice. When you cook rice, it absorbs liquid and releases starches. These starches are how we develop the beautiful flowing consistency of risotto. Cauliflower, on the other hand, just releases moisture and has no starches to speak of…

So, in order to turn it into something that resembles a risotto, this white cruciferous vegetable is going to need some help. Here, that help is coming in the form of tahini. By mixing tahini (sesame seed paste) with vegetable broth and a few other ingredients, we have a liquid that will thicken the cauliflower rice and add a creamy consistency. I was blown away by how good this is. Not only does the tahini trick work way better than I expected, the flavors are out of this world.

If you’re looking for a lower calorie substitute for classic risotto, this version has all the creamy, comforting flavors of the original with more nutrients and less starches. As an added bonus, this version is easier to make, cooks faster, and doesn’t cause your arm to fall off from constant stirring.

Cauli_Risotto

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 stalks celery
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms (any kind)
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Step One

In a large pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add in a finely-diced mixture of red onion, celery and garlic. Allow this to soften and turn translucent (about 5-6 minutes). Meanwhile…

Step Two

Break up the head of cauliflower into small pieces and add them to a food processor. Quickly pulse about 20 times until you have small bits of cauliflower that resemble rice. This step is important to create the right texture. If the chunks are too big, it won’t feel like rice; if you pulse too long it will end up all soupy. Once it’s the right size, add this cauliflower “rice” into the pan with the celery and onions. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper here as well.

Step Three

In a small saucepan, warm 2 cups of vegetable broth along with 1/4 cup tahini. Stir until the tahini dissolves and then add in 2 cups of sliced mushrooms and the leaves from 1 sprig of rosemary. Let this simmer for 5 minutes while the cauliflower (in the other pan) continues to soften.

Step Four

Pour the mushroom tahini broth into the pan with the cauliflower and stir to combine. Also add in a handful or two of fresh or frozen peas to add some color and texture. Allow this to cook uncovered for another 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly. At this point, you should have a creamy mixture that’s neither too dry or too soupy – just like a good risotto. At the last minute, remove from the heat and add in a squeeze of lemon juice, the leaves from another sprig of rosemary, and more salt & pepper if needed.

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Cauli_Risotto_Top

16 Comments

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  1. Hi Andrew! Looks like a delicious recipe. I just noticed that you don’t mention rosemary as an ingredient in the ingredients list, so I almost forgot to buy it 😉 I will try this recipe this weekend!

    • Oh! I’m so sorry about that. It was actually there but an error in the code made it invisible. 🙁 I should have looked it over more carefully, thanks for pointing this out!

  2. Hi Andrew, cool site. Just discovered it last night. I like the cauliflower idea just to be different from rice, but what exactly is wrong with purchasing arborio rice? Are you opposed to anything that is refined in any way? Rice is actually pretty nutritious even when refined. (http://tinyurl.com/ldv823x) High in protein for a plant food, and a good array of vitamins and minerals. It gets a bad wrap these days, but it has been staple of human for millennia. Same question about ground corn. I eat tortillas whose only ingredients are: ground corn, water, salt, lemon juice. Trader Joe’s brand I think. Anyway, I could technically make these by getting corn, drying it, grinding it, and then making the dough and forming my own tortillas, but why bother? It’s not a single ingredient, but it isn’t franken-food by a longshot.

    • It would be quite an assumption to say that I am condemning all forms of rice because I made one recipe that doesn’t include rice 🙂 This website has 3 risotto recipes with regular arborio rice and probably a dozen or more recipes with other types of rice.

  3. Hi Andrew, As always this looks delicious. In fact I have some cauliflower rice already made up in the fridge. I think I’ll make this tomorrow night

    • Cool!! I’m glad you liked it… Interesting to hear that it works well with peanut butter too. I’ll have to try that 😀

  4. Hi Andrew, I was wondering; do you need as much cauliflower (in grams) as you would need when using risotto rice? I bought a small cauliflower, but now I’m doubting whether it will be enough. I would use 150 grams of risotto rice for 2 persons, so would you recommend the same amount for cauliflower? Thank you so much in advance! cheers!

    • Hi Fleur, oh I would say you need 2-3x more cauliflower than rice per serving. Firstly because it cooks down quite a bit, but also because it has wayyyy less calories so a serving needs to be much larger.

  5. Great recipe! My family doesn’t like peas (go figure) so I’m going to substitute edamame soy beans for the peas and get a little extra protein to boot! Others might like to try the substitution.

  6. Hi! My tahini sauce always separates when I’m cooking it- what am I doing wrong? It happens with this sauce, and the Biscut gravey

    • Hmm, it’s hard to pinpoint what exactly would cause it to separate. This kind of sauce will naturally separate over time, which can be remedied with a quick stir… but if you’re talking about a more serious serration where it won’t emulsify at all… that’s hard to diagnose. My first thought might be that it’s the brand of tahini that just isn’t cooperating. You could also experiment with different temperatures and proportions, etc. to see what works?

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