Cauliflower risotto

This is the definition of non-traditional. Rice is swapped out for riced cauliflower in the risotto, then basil and pine nuts are swapped out for arugula and pecans in the pesto. What you end up with are quotes of classic recipes with a fresher (and lighter) flavor profile.

You should expect a creamy texture with the cauliflower, and while it won't get as thick as a regular rice-based risotto (no natural glutens, you see), it'll still get some body because we're going to cook this bad boy in milk.

A pleasant bitterness comes from the arugula pesto, but, I'll tell you this: If you don't like arugula, then you're not going to like this. Try swapped out another green, like spinach, if you want to change things up and experiment. You could also just skip arugula and maybe zest a touch more lemon and drizzle a touch of olive oil to finish.

This recipe serves 4 people, and is also a great addition to a power bowl as a base layer for meat and roasted veggies.


What you need

Cauliflower risotto

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small shallot

1 lb cauliflower, riced (30 seconds in a food processor should do it; you want the cauliflower pieces to be about the size of rice) 

1 cup whole milk

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly cracked white or black pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon

1 cup parmigiano reggiano (optional) 


Arugula pesto

1 cup arugula

2 tbsp pecans, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp freshly cracked white or black pepper

Zest of 1/2 a lemon


How to do it

For cauliflower risotto

Finely mince shallot, then add shallot and olive oil to a large (10-inch or so) sauté pan with tall sides. 

Cook shallot over medium heat for 3 minutes until just beginning to soften. 

Add cauliflower to the pan and stir to incorporate shallots and olive oil with the cauliflower bits. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula.

Next, add milk, salt and pepper to the pan and cook slowly over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer until nearly almost all the milk has been absorbed; this will take about 10 minutes.

*Note: While you cook down the milk, it's an excellent time to make the arugula pesto. 

Remove from the heat and add lemon juice. You should also add Parmesan at this time, if using. Taste and season with more salt or white pepper as needed. Top with arugula pesto and serve immediately.  

Extra cauliflower risotto can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. 

For arugula-pecan pesto

Using either a food processor or mortar and pestle, add arugula, pecans, salt, pepper and lemon zest, and combine until a chunky paste. 

If using a mortar and pestle, transfer the arugula mixture to a small mixing bowl; if using a food processor, leave the arugula mixture inside. Next, add the extra virgin olive oil in a slowly drizzle while mixing constantly with food processor or a whisk. Stir until combined.

Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as necessary. 

This recipe takes about 5 minutes to make and does not keep its color for long! It'll taste just fine the next day, but will most likely be brown. This recipe is best utilized right after making, but can be stored in the fridge for up to a day.